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Title: Abraham Lincoln
Author: Curtis, William Eleroy, 1850-1911
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Abraham Lincoln" ***


Uniform with This Volume



    "This work challenges attention for the really valuable
    light which it throws upon the character of George Washington."

        --_Philadelphia Bulletin._



    "The volume is particularly worth reading because it revives
    the many-sided nature and activity of a truly great man."
        --_Springfield Republican.

    "A most readable and entertaining volume. Jefferson will
    stand higher in popular estimation because of the human touch in
    the picture."

        --_Brooklyn Eagle._

[Illustration: Copyright, 1891, by M. P. Rice


From an original, unretouched negative made in 1864]










    He knew to bide his time,
      And can his fame abide,
    Still patient in his simple faith sublime,
      Till the wise years decide.
    Great captains, with their guns and drums,
      Disturb our judgment for the hour,
    But at last silence comes;
      These all are gone, and, standing like a tower,
    Our children shall behold his fame,
      The kindly, earnest, brave, foreseeing man,
    Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame,
      New birth of our new soil, the first American.

        --_Lowell, Commemoration Ode_


    CHAPTER                                                     PAGE

       I.--THE MAN AND HIS KINDRED                                13

      II.--THE LEADER OF THE SPRINGFIELD BAR                      56

     III.--A GREAT ORATOR AND HIS SPEECHES                        86

      IV.--A PRAIRIE POLITICIAN                                  129

       V.--A PRESIDENT AND HIS CABINET                           179

      VI.--A COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF AND HIS GENERALS                 229


    VIII.--THE EMANCIPATION OF THE SLAVES                        314

      IX.--A MASTER IN DIPLOMACY                                 342


List of Illustrations


    ABRAHAM LINCOLN                                   _Frontispiece_

        From an original, unretouched negative made in 1864,
        when he commissioned Ulysses S. Grant Lieutenant-General
        and commander of all the armies of the republic.

    THE BIRTHPLACE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN                             20

        This cabin was long ago torn down, but the logs were
        saved, and in August, 1895, it was rebuilt on the
        original site.


        From a photograph taken in September, 1895.


        From a photograph taken in September, 1895. The spring
        is in a hollow at the foot of the gentle slope on which
        the house stands.

      PARTY                                                       38

        By special permission, from the collection of C. F.
        Gunther, Esq., Chicago.


        From a photograph by Brady in the War Department

      WEAR A BEARD                                                60

        From a photograph in the collection of H. W. Fay, Esq.,
        De Kalb, Illinois. By special permission.

    ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN THE SUMMER OF 1860                         75

        From a negative taken for M. C. Tuttle, of St. Paul,
        Minnesota, for local use in the presidential campaign.

    ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN 1858                                      100

        From a photograph owned by Hon. William J. Franklin,
        Macomb, Illinois, taken in 1866 from an ambrotype made
        in 1858 at Macomb. By special permission.

    ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN 1861                                      125

        Copied from the original in the possession of Frank A.
        Brown, Esq., Minneapolis, Minnesota.


        The tree in front of the house was planted by Lincoln.

    ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN 1861                                      169

        From a photograph by Klauber, of Louisville, Kentucky,
        taken especially for Mrs. Lucy G. Speed, in
        acknowledgment of an Oxford Bible received from her
        twenty years before.  Reproduced by special permission
        of James B. Speed, Esq., of Louisville, Kentucky.

    MONTGOMERY BLAIR, POSTMASTER-GENERAL                         187

        From a photograph by Brady.

    GIDEON WELLES, SECRETARY OF THE NAVY                         196

        From a photograph by Brady.

    WILLIAM H. SEWARD, SECRETARY OF STATE                        201

        From a photograph by Brady.


        From a contemporary photograph by M. B. Brady.

    EDWIN M. STANTON, SECRETARY OF WAR                           224

        From a photograph by Brady.

    GENERAL ULYSSES S. GRANT                                     254

        From an original, unretouched negative made in 1864,
        when he was commissioned Lieutenant-General and
        commander of all the armies of the republic.

      LINCOLN AT FALMOUTH, VIRGINIA, IN APRIL, 1863              271

        From a drawing by W. R. Leigh.

    PRESIDENT LINCOLN AND HIS SON "TAD"                          287

        From a photograph by Brady, now in the War Department
        Collection, Washington, D. C.

    JOHN WILKES BOOTH                                            311

        From a photograph by Brady.

    ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN 1864                                      320

        From a photograph in the War Department Collection.


        By special permission of John M. Crampton, Esq., New
        Haven, Connecticut.

    SALMON P. CHASE, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY                   356

        From a photograph by Brady.

A Lincoln Calendar

    Born                                           February 12, 1809

    Removed to Indiana                                          1816

    Nancy Hanks Lincoln died                                    1817

    Thomas Lincoln married Sally Bush Johnston                  1819

    First trip to New Orleans                                   1828

    Removed to Illinois                                  March, 1830

    Went to New Salem                                    March, 1831

    Second trip to New Orleans                           April, 1831

    Enters Offutt's store                               August, 1831

    Candidate for Legislature                            March, 1832

    Black Hawk War                                       April, 1832

    Defeated for Legislature                            August, 1832

    Buys store with Berry                                       1832

    Appointed Postmaster                                   May, 1833

    Appointed Surveyor                                November, 1833

    Elected to Legislature                              August, 1834

    Removed to Springfield                               April, 1837

    Re-elected to Legislature                         1836-1838-1840

    First meets Douglas in debate                     December, 1839

    Duel with Shields                                           1842

    Married                                         November 4, 1842

    Partnership with Logan                                      1842

    Defeat for Congressional nomination                         1844

    Elected to Congress                                         1846

    Candidate for United States Senator                         1855

    Assists organization of Republican party       February 22, 1856

    Delegate to Philadelphia Convention                June 17, 1856

    Challenges Douglas to joint debate                 July 17, 1858

    Second defeat for Senator                          January, 1859

    Cooper Institute speech                        February 27, 1860

    Nominated for President                             May 16, 1860

    Elected President                               November 6, 1860

    Leaves Springfield for Washington              February 11, 1861

    Arrival at Washington                          February 23, 1861

    Inaugurated President                              March 4, 1861

    Renominated for President                           June 8, 1864

    Re-elected President                            November 8, 1864

    Second inauguration                                March 4, 1865

    Assassinated                                      April 14, 1865

Abraham Lincoln



This is not a conventional biography. It is a collection of sketches in
which an attempt is made to portray the character of Abraham Lincoln
as the highest type of the American from several interesting points of
view. He has doubtless been the subject of more literary composition
than any other man of modern times, although there was nothing eccentric
or abnormal about him; there were no mysteries in his career to excite
curiosity; no controversies concerning his conduct, morals, or motives;
no doubt as to his purposes; and no difference of opinion as to his
unselfish patriotism or the success of his administration of the
government in the most trying period of its existence. Perhaps there is
no other man of prominence in American history, or in the history of the
human family, whose reputation is more firmly and clearly established.
There is certainly none more beloved and revered, whose character is so
well understood and so universally admired, and whose political, moral,
and intellectual integrity is so fully admitted by his opponents as well
as his supporters.

Of such a man, wrote a well-known writer, the last word can never
be said. Each succeeding generation may profit by the contemplation
of his strength and triumphs. His rise from obscurity to fame and
power was almost as sudden and startling as that of Napoleon, for it
may truthfully be said that when Mr. Lincoln was nominated for the
Presidency he was an unknown man. He had occupied no important position;
he had rendered no great public service; his reputation was that of a
debater and politician, and did not become national until he delivered
a remarkable speech at Cooper Union, New York. His election was not due
to personal popularity, nor to the strength of the party he represented,
nor to the justice of his cause; but to factional strife and jealousies
among his opponents. When the American people were approaching the
greatest crisis in their history, it was the hand of Providence that
turned the eyes of the loyal people of the North to this plain man of
the prairies, and his rugged figure rose before them as if he were
created for their leader.

Napoleon became dizzy; yielded to the temptations of power, betrayed
his people, grasped at empire, and fell; but the higher Lincoln rose
the more modest became his manners, the more serene his temper, the
more conspicuous his unselfishness, the purer and more patriotic his
motives. With masterful tact and force he assumed responsibilities that
made men shudder. The captain of a company of uncouth volunteers began
to organize vast armies, undertook the direction of military campaigns
and of a momentous civil war, and conducted the diplomatic relations
of a nation with skill and statesmanship that astonished his ministers
and his generals. He, an humble country lawyer and local politician,
suddenly took his place with the world's greatest statesmen, planned
and managed the legislation of Congress, proposed financial measures
that involved the wealth of the nation, and alone, in the midst of
the confusion of war and the clamor of greedy politicians and the
dissensions of his advisers, solved problems that staggered the wisest
minds of the nation. The popular story-teller of the cross-roads, the
crack debater of the New Salem Literary Club, became an orator of
immortal fame. The rail-splitter of the Sangamon became the most honored
and respected man of his generation.

Such men are not accidents. The strength of a structure depends upon
the material used and the treatment it has received. Poor material may
be improved and good material is often spoiled in the making; but only
when the pure metal has passed through the fire and the forge is it fit
to sustain a severe strain. Thus Abraham Lincoln, unconscious of his
destiny, by the struggles and privations of his early life was qualified
for the task to which Infinite Wisdom had assigned him.

Abraham Lincoln's father was descended from Samuel Lincoln, who
emigrated from the west of England a few years after the landing of the
Pilgrims and settled at the village of Hingham, on the south shore of
Massachusetts Bay, between Boston and Plymouth. Eight men bearing that
name came over on the same ship and are supposed to have been related.
An army of their descendants is scattered over the Union. One of them,
Samuel Lincoln, left a large family which has produced several prominent
figures besides a President of the United States. One of his grandsons
in the third generation, Levi Lincoln, was recognized for a generation
as the leader of the New England bar. He was Secretary of State and
Attorney-General in the Cabinet of President Jefferson, a member of the
Legislature of Massachusetts, and one of the ablest and most influential
men of his day.

The fourth son of Samuel Lincoln, Mordecai, I, acquired wealth as a
manufacturer. His eldest son, who inherited his name, moved to Berks
County, Pennsylvania, and had a son named John, who took up a tract of
land in Virginia about the year 1760, where, like the rest of his name,
he raised a large family. John Lincoln, II, his second son, became
prominent in public affairs, and was a member of the Convention that
framed the first Constitution of the State of Pennsylvania.

On July 10, 1760, Abraham, I, the third of the five sons of John
Lincoln, II, married Anna Boone, a cousin of Daniel Boone, the most
famous of American pioneers, and his father gave him a farm in the
Shenandoah Valley. By frequent intermarriages between the Boones and the
Lincolns they were closely allied. By the will of Mordecai Lincoln, II,
his "loving friend and neighbor George Boone" was made executor of his
estate and Squire Boone, father of the celebrated Daniel, was appointed
to make an inventory of the property. Hananiah Lincoln was a partner of
Daniel Boone in the purchase of a tract of land on the Missouri River in
1798, and it was there that the great woodsman died.

The name Abraham was a favorite among the Lincoln family. It occurs
frequently in their genealogy. A young man named Abraham Lincoln
distinguished himself for courage and brutality on the Confederate side
during the Civil War. He killed a Dunkard preacher whom he suspected of
furnishing information to the Union army. The Union President received
several letters of offensive tone from his kinsman in the South during
the earlier part of his administration.

The farm of Abraham Lincoln, I, in the Shenandoah Valley, was on the
great national highway along which the course of empire took its
westward way, and, infected by continual contact with the emigrants and
encouraged by the greatest of American pioneers, he sold the property
his father had given him, packed his wife and five children into a
Conestoga wagon, and followed the great migration until it led him
to what is now Hughes Station, Jefferson County, Kentucky, where he
entered a large tract of land and paid for it one hundred and sixty
pounds "in current money." The original warrant, dated March 4, 1780,
is still in existence. By the blunder of a clerk in the Land Office the
name was misspelled Linkhorn, and Abraham, I, was too careless or busy
to correct it, for it appears that way in all the subsequent records.
Hananiah Lincoln, the partner of Daniel Boone, furnished the surveyor's

Four years later, in the spring of 1784, occurred the first tragedy
in the annals of the Lincoln family. Abraham, I, with his three sons,
were at work clearing ground upon his farm when they were attacked by
a wandering squad of Indians. The first shot from the brush killed the
father. Mordecai, III, the eldest son, started to the house for his
rifle; Josiah ran to the neighbors for assistance, leaving Thomas, a
child of six, alone with his father. After Mordecai had recovered his
rifle he saw an Indian in war-paint appear upon the scene, examine the
dead body of his father, and stoop to raise the lad from the ground.
Taking deliberate aim at a white ornament that hung from the neck of the
savage, he brought him down and his little brother escaped to the cabin.
The Indians began to appear in the thicket, but Mordecai, shooting
through the loopholes of the cabin, held them off until Josiah returned
with reinforcements.

From circumstantial evidence we must infer that Anna Lincoln was a poor
manager, or perhaps she suffered from some misfortune. All we know is
that she abandoned the farm in Jefferson County and moved south into
the neighboring county of Washington, where she disappears from human
knowledge. Her eldest son, Mordecai, III, appears to have inherited
his father's money, as the rules of primogeniture prevailed in those
days. He was sheriff of Washington County, a member of the Kentucky
Legislature, and tradition gives him the reputation of an honorable
and influential citizen. Late in life he removed to Hancock County,
Illinois, where he died and is buried. Josiah, the second son, crossed
the Ohio River and took up a homestead in what is now called Harrison
County, Indiana. Mary, the eldest daughter, married Ralph Crume, and
Nancy, the fourth child, married William Brumfield. Their descendants
are still found in Hardin, Washington, and other counties in that

Explanations are wanting for the circumstance that Thomas, the youngest
son and brother of this prosperous family, whose father was slain
before his eyes when he was only six years old, was turned adrift,
without home or care, for at ten years of age we find him "a wandering,
laboring boy" who was left uneducated and supported himself by farm
work and other menial employment, and learned the trades of carpenter
and cabinet-maker. But he must have had good stuff in him, for when he
was twenty-five years old he had saved enough from his wages to buy a
farm in Hardin County. Local tradition, which, however, cannot always
be trusted, represents him to have been "an easy going man, and slow to
anger, but when 'roused a formidable adversary." He was above the medium
height, had a powerful frame, and, like his immortal son, had a wide
local reputation as a wrestler.

While learning his trade in the carpenter shop of Joseph Hanks, Thomas
Lincoln married Nancy Hanks, his own cousin, and the niece of his
employer. He probably met her at the house of Richard Berry, with whom
she lived, and must have seen a good deal of her at the home of her
uncle. At all events, the cousins became engaged; their nuptial bond was
signed according to the law on June 10, 1806, and two days later they
were married by the Rev. Jesse Head, at the home of Richard Berry, near
Beechland, Washington County, Kentucky.

Nancy Hanks was descended from William Hanks, who came to this country
in 1699 and settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Four of his five sons
moved to Amelia County, Virginia, where they had a large tract of land.
One of their descendants, Joseph Hanks, married Nancy Shipley, and in
1789 moved to Kentucky with a large party of his relatives. In 1793 he
died, leaving eight children, who were scattered among their relatives,
and Nancy, the youngest, when nine years old, found a home with her
aunt, Lucy Shipley, the wife of Richard Berry. She is represented to
have been a sweet-tempered and handsome woman, of intellect, appearance,
and character superior to her position; and could even read and write,
which was a remarkable accomplishment among the women of that day. She
taught her husband to write his name. But she had no means whatever,
being entirely dependent upon her uncle, and it is probable that she was
willing to marry even so humble a husband as Thomas Lincoln, for the
sake of securing independence and a home.

Thomas Lincoln took his wife to a little log cabin in a hamlet called
Elizabethtown, probably because he thought that it would be more
congenial for her than his lonely farm in Hardin County, which was
fourteen miles away; and perhaps he thought that he could earn a better
living by carpenter work than by farming. Here their first child, Sarah,
was born about a year after the marriage.

Thomas Lincoln either failed to earn sufficient money to meet his
household expenses or grew tired of his carpenter work, for, two years
later, he left Elizabethtown and moved his family to his farm near
Hodgensville, on the Big South Fork of Nolen Creek. It was a miserable
place, of thin, unproductive soil and only partly cleared. Its only
attraction was a fine spring of water, shaded by a little grove, which
caused it to be called "Rock Spring Farm." The cabin was of the rudest
sort, with a single room, a single window, a big fireplace, and a huge
outside chimney.

In this cabin Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, and here he
spent the first four years of his childhood. It was a far reach to the
White House. Soon after his nomination for the Presidency he furnished
a brief autobiography to Mr. Hicks, an artist who was painting his
portrait, in which he said,--

    "I was born February 12, 1809, in then Hardin County,
    Kentucky, at a point within the now County of Larue, a mile or
    a mile and a half from where Hodgen's mill now is. My parents
    being dead, and my own memory not serving, I know no means of
    identifying the precise locality. It was on Nolen Creek.

        "A. LINCOLN.

    "June 14, 1860."

The precise spot has since been clearly identified, and the cabin was
still standing after his death.

In 1813 the family removed to a more comfortable home on Knob Creek, six
miles from Hodgensville, where Thomas Lincoln bought a better farm of
two hundred and thirty-eight acres for one hundred and eighteen pounds
and gave his note in payment. This was Abraham Lincoln's second home,
and there he lived for four years.

We know little about his childhood, except that it was of continual
privation in a cheerless home, for Thomas Lincoln evidently found it
difficult to supply his family with food and clothing. Mr. Lincoln
seldom talked freely of those days, even to his most intimate friends,
although from remarks which he dropped from time to time they judged
that the impressions of his first years were indelible upon his
temperament and contributed to his melancholy. On one occasion, being
asked if he remembered anything about the War of 1812, he said that when
a child, returning from fishing one day, he met a soldier in the road
and, having been admonished by his mother that everybody should be good
to the soldiers, he gave him his fish.

[Illustration: Copyright, 1900, by McClure, Phillips & Co.


Thomas and Nancy Lincoln had three children. Sarah, the eldest, at the
age of fourteen married Aaron Griggsby and died in childbirth a year
later. Thomas, the third child, died when only three days old.

When Abraham was about seven years old his father became restless and
went across the river into Indiana to look for a new home. It has been
represented by some of Lincoln's biographers that the motive of his
removal was his dislike of slavery; that he wished to remove his son
from its influence; but Lincoln attributed the determination to other
reasons, particularly his father's difficulty in securing a valid
title to his land. It is quite as probable that, like other men of his
temperament, he thought he could do better in a new place; like other
rolling stones, that he could gather more moss in a new soil. He found
a purchaser for his farm who gave him in payment twenty dollars in
money and ten barrels of whiskey, which Thomas Lincoln loaded upon a
flat-boat, with his household furniture, floating it down Knob Creek to
Rolling Fork, to Salt River, to the Ohio River, and down the Ohio to
Thompson's Ferry in Perry County, Indiana. The boat upset on the way
and part of the whiskey and some of his carpenter tools were lost. He
plunged into the forest, found a location that suited him about sixteen
miles from the river, called Pigeon Creek, where he left his property
with a settler, and, as his boat could not float upstream, he sold it
and walked back to Hodgensville to get his wife and two children. He
secured a wagon and two horses, in which he carried his family and
whatever of his household effects were then remaining.

Arriving at his location, which was a piece of timber land a mile and
a half east of what is now Gentryville, Spencer County, he built a log
cabin fourteen feet square, open to the weather on one side, and without
windows or chimney. This was Abraham Lincoln's third home, and the
family lived in that rude, primitive way for more than a year, managing
to raise a patch of corn and a few vegetables during the following
summer, which, with corn meal ground at a hand grist-mill seven miles
away, were their chief food. Game, however, was abundant. The streams
were full of fish and wild fruits could be gathered in the forest. The
future President of the United States slept upon a heap of dry leaves
in a narrow loft at one end of the cabin, to which he climbed by means
of pegs driven into the wall. A year after his arrival Thomas Lincoln
entered the quarter section of land he occupied and made his first
payment under what was familiarly known as the "two-dollar-an-acre law,"
but it was eleven years before he could pay enough to obtain a patent
for half of it. He then erected a permanent home of logs which was
comparatively comfortable and was perhaps as good as those occupied by
most of his neighbors.

In the fall of 1818 the little community of pioneers was almost
exterminated by an epidemic known as "milk sickness," and among the
victims was Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who was buried with her neighbors in a
little clearing in the forest in a coffin made of green lumber, cut with
a whip-saw by her husband. There were no ceremonies at her burial, but
several months later Abraham, then ten years old, wrote to Parson David
Elkin, the itinerant Free-will Baptist preacher at Hodgensville, of his
mother's death, and begged him to come to Indiana and preach her funeral
sermon. Nancy Lincoln must have been highly esteemed or this poor parson
would not have come a hundred miles through the wilderness in answer
to this summons from her child, for several months later he appeared
according to appointment, and all the settlers for many miles around
assembled to hear him. It was the most important event that had ever
occurred in the community and was remembered longer than any other.

[Illustration: Copyright, 1900, by McClure, Phillips & Co.


From a photograph taken in September, 1895. The cabin in which Lincoln
was born is seen to the right, in the background]

The death of Mrs. Lincoln left the child Sarah, then only eleven years
old, to care for the household, and, with the assistance of her brother,
she struggled through the next year until the autumn of 1819, when
their father returned to Hodgensville and married Sally Bush Johnston,
a widow with three children (John, Sarah, and Matilda), whom he had
courted before he married Nancy Hanks. She seems to have been a woman
of uncommon energy and nobility of character, and in after-life her
step-son paid her a worthy tribute when he said that the strongest
influence which stimulated and guided him in his ambition came from her
and from his own mother. Under her management conditions improved. She
brought a little property and some household goods into the family as
well as three children, stimulated her husband to industry, and taught
his children habits of order, cleanliness, and thrift. There was never
any friction between her and her step-children, and her own brood, John,
Sarah, and Matilda, were received cordially and treated with affection.
Nor in their after-lives was any distinction made by either of the
parents. The step-mother recognized in Abraham a boy of unusual talent,
and encouraged and assisted him by every means within her power.

Abraham's life was spent at hard labor. He was a boy of unusual stature
and, from the time he was ten years old, did a man's work. He learned
all the tricks in the trades that a pioneer's son must know; hired out
upon the neighboring farms when there was nothing for him to do at home,
and his wages (twenty-five cents a day) were paid to his father. He
cared little for amusement, and hunting, which was the chief recreation
of young men of his age, had no attractions for him. In his brief
autobiography, which was prepared for the newspapers the day after his
nomination for the Presidency, he says,--

"A flock of wild turkeys approached the new log cabin, and Abraham,
with a rifle gun, standing inside, shot through the cracks and killed
one of them. He has never since pulled a trigger on any larger game."
He joined in the rude amusements and sports of the community like other
boys and enjoyed them. His quick intelligence, ready sympathy, wit,
humor, and generous disposition made him a great favorite. He was the
best talker and story-teller in the neighborhood. His tall stature and
unusual strength made him a leader in athletic sports, and his studious
habits and retentive memory gave him an advantage among his comrades, a
few of whom had a little, but the most of them no education. His less
gifted comrades recognized his ability and superiority; they learned to
accept his opinions and to respect his judgment. He became an instructor
as well as a leader, and the local traditions represent him as a sort
of intellectual phenomenon, whose wit, anecdotes, doggerel verses,
practical jokes, muscular strength, and skill made him the wonder of the
community and are a part of the early history of that section.

When he was sixteen he operated a ferry-boat at the mouth of Anderson's
Creek, transporting passengers across the Ohio River, and it was then
that he earned the first money that he could claim as his own. One
evening in the White House, while he was President, he told the story
to several members of his Cabinet, and Mr. Secretary Seward gives the
following account of it:

"I was contemplating my new flat-boat, and wondering whether I could
make it stronger or improve it in any particular, when two men came down
to the shore in carriages with trunks, and looking at the different
boats singled out mine, and asked: 'Who owns this?' I answered, somewhat
modestly, 'I do.' 'Will you,' said one of them, 'take us and our trunks
out to the steamer?' 'Certainly,' said I. I was glad to have the chance
of earning something. I supposed that each of them would give me two
or three bits. The trunks were put on my flat-boat, and the passengers
seated themselves on the trunks, and I sculled them out to the steamer.

"They got on board, and I lifted up their heavy trunks and put them on
deck. The steamer was about to put on steam again, when I called out
that they had forgotten to pay me. Each of them took from his pocket
a silver half-dollar and threw it on the floor of my boat. I could
scarcely believe my eyes as I picked up the money. Gentlemen, you may
think it was a very little thing, and in these days it seems to me a
trifle; but it was the most important incident in my life. I could
scarcely credit that I, a poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a
day--that by honest work I had earned a dollar. The world seemed fairer
and wider before me. I was a more hopeful and confident being from that

When he was nineteen Mr. Gentry, the most prominent man in the
neighborhood, from whom the town of Gentryville was named, and who kept
the "store," embarked in a new enterprise, and sent Abraham with his son
Allen upon a flat-boat to New Orleans with a load of bacon, corn meal,
and other provisions, paying him eight dollars a month and his passage
home on a steamboat. Thus the future President obtained his first
glimpse of the world outside the Indiana forest, and the impressions
left upon his mind by this experience were never effaced. It was the
beginning of a new life for him and the awakening of new ambitions.

"He was a hired man merely," wrote Lincoln of himself nearly thirty
years afterwards, "and he and a son of the owner, without any other
assistance, made the trip. The nature of part of the 'cargo load,' as
it was called, made it necessary for them to linger and trade along the
sugar-coast, and one night they were attacked by seven negroes with
intent to kill and rob them. They were hurt some in the mêlée, but
succeeded in driving the negroes from the boat, and then 'cut cable,'
'weighed anchor,' and left."

The prairies of Illinois were becoming a great temptation to pioneers
in those days, and the restless disposition of Thomas Lincoln could not
be restrained; so he and several of his relatives joined the migration,
making a party of thirteen. Lincoln himself tells the story in these

"March 1st, 1830, Abraham having just completed his twenty-first year,
his father and family, with the families of the two daughters and
sons-in-law of his step-mother, left the old homestead in Indiana and
came to Illinois. Their mode of conveyance was wagons drawn by ox-teams,
and Abraham drove one of the teams. They reached the county of Macon,
and stopped there some time within the same month of March. His father
and family settled a new place on the north side of the Sangamon River,
at the junction of the timber land and prairie, about ten miles westerly
from Decatur. Here they built a log cabin, into which they removed, and
made sufficient of rails to fence ten acres of ground, fenced and broke
the ground, and raised a crop of sown corn upon it in the same year."

[Illustration: Copyright, 1900, by McClure, Phillips & Co.


From a photograph taken in September, 1895]

The sons-in-law of his step-mother referred to were Dennis Hanks and
Levi Hall, who had married Sarah and Matilda, Lincoln's step-sisters.
Hanks was a son of the Joseph Hanks with whom Thomas Lincoln learned the
carpenter's trade in Kentucky. Another son, John Hanks, was a member
of the family, and it was he who appeared at the State convention at
Decatur, May 9, 1860, bearing two weather-worn fence-rails decorated
with streamers and a banner inscribed to the effect that they were from
the identical lot of three thousand rails which Lincoln had cut on the
Sangamon River in 1830. This dramatic scene was devised by Richard J.
Oglesby, afterwards Governor and United States Senator, and one of
Lincoln's most ardent admirers and faithful supporters. Little did
Lincoln dream when he was splitting rails in the walnut woods with John
Hanks that he and his companion would appear in a drama of national
interest with samples of their handiwork to electrify the country with
enthusiasm and confer upon the long-legged farmer boy the sobriquet of
"The Illinois Rail-Splitter."

Delegates had been elected to the second National Republican Convention
to be held at Chicago a week later, when Mr. Oglesby arose and announced
in a serious and mysterious manner that an old citizen of Macon County
had something to present to the Convention. Then, with great dramatic
effect, John Hanks entered, bearing the relics which were to become the
symbols of the National Convention. The assembly was transformed into a
tumult, and Lincoln was brought to the platform, where, when order could
be restored, he said,--

"Gentlemen: I suppose you want to know something about those things.
Well, the truth is, John Hanks and I did make rails in the Sangamon
bottom. I don't know whether we made those rails or not; fact is, I
don't think they are a credit to the maker [and his awkward frame shook
with suppressed laughter]; but I know this, I made rails then and I
think I could make better ones than these now."

The rails were taken to the National Convention at Chicago and had a
prominent place at the Illinois head-quarters, where, trimmed with
flowers and lighted by tapers by enthusiastic ladies, they were the
subject of much private and newspaper attention. Later in the campaign
they were sent from place to place in the country and other rails
from the old farm were also used as campaign emblems. A Philadelphia
speculator sent to Illinois and purchased a car-load of them.

Through the remainder of the year and the following winter (1830-31)
young Lincoln was employed about his father's new home and at intervals
assisted the neighbors in farm work in company with John Hanks. When he
reached his twenty-first year he started out for himself according to
the custom of the country. He was the most promising young man in that
neighborhood. He had a better education than any of the community, his
intellectual and conversational powers were beyond all rivalry, and his
physical strength and endurance were remarkable even among the giants of
those days. He stood six feet four inches in his stockings, and could
outlift, outwork, outrun, and outwrestle every man of his acquaintance.
And his pride in his physical accomplishments was greater than in his
intellectual attainments. For a man of his natural modesty he was very
vain of his stature and strength, and was accustomed to display and
boast of them even after he became President. He retained his muscular
strength to the end of his life, although he then took very little
physical exercise. The muscles of his body were like iron. General Veile
says that he could take a heavy axe and, grasping it with his thumb and
forefinger at the extreme end of the handle, hold it out on a horizontal
line from his body. "When I was eighteen years of age I could do this,"
he said with pride, "and I have never seen the day since when I could
not do it." The attachés of the office of the Secretary of War relate
curious stories of his frequent displays of muscular strength when he
visited the War Department to read the despatches from his generals.
He frequently astonished visitors at the Executive Mansion by asking
them to measure height with him, and one day shocked Senator Sumner by
suggesting that they stand back to back to see which was the taller. A
delegation of clergymen appeared at the White House one morning bursting
with righteous indignation because slavery was still tolerated in the
rebellious States and bearing a series of fervid resolutions demanding
immediate abolition. One of the number was a very tall man, and the
President could scarcely wait until he had completed his carefully
prepared oration presenting the memorial. As soon as he had uttered the
last word, Mr. Lincoln asked eagerly,--

"Mr. Blank, how tall are you?"

The clergyman turned scarlet and looked around at his colleagues in

"I believe I am taller than you," continued the President. "What is your

"Six feet three inches," responded the divine with evident irritation.

"Then I outmeasure you by an inch," said Mr. Lincoln with a satisfied
air, and proceeded to explain the situation as to slavery.

A similar scene occurred on another occasion when, however, the visitor
happened to be a trifle taller than the President. One of his friends
who was present says that the latter showed more irritation than he
had ever seen him exhibit before; nor did he forget it, but the next
time his friend called he referred to the matter and remarked that he
considered himself the tallest man in Washington, although he didn't
pretend to be as handsome as General Scott.

When the notification committee came from the Chicago Convention to his
home at Springfield, they were presented one after another to their
candidate, and, as Governor E. D. Morgan, of New York, reached him, he
asked his height and weight. Mr. Morgan gave the information with some
amusement, whereupon Lincoln remarked,--

"You are the heavier, but I am the taller."

In 1859, when he went to Milwaukee to deliver an address at a State
fair, a cannon-ball tosser in a sideshow interested him more than
anything else on the grounds. Lincoln insisted upon testing the weights
he handled, and was quite chagrined because he was not able to throw
them about as easily as the professional. As they parted he remarked in
his droll way,--

"You can outlift me, but I could lick salt off the top of your hat."

Thomas Lincoln did not remain long at his home on the bluffs overlooking
the Sangamon River. He was always afflicted with the fever of unrest.
Like so many of his class, he continued to advance westward, keeping on
the skirmish line of the frontier. He removed three times after he came
to Illinois in search of better luck, and never found it. He owned three
farms, but never paid for any of them, and was always growing poorer and
signing larger mortgages. Finally, when he had reached the end of his
credit, Lincoln bought him a tract of forty acres near Farmington, Coles
County, where he lived until January 17, 1851, long enough to enjoy the
satisfaction of seeing his son one of the foremost men in the State. He
was buried near the little hamlet. His wife survived both him and her
famous step-son, and was tenderly cared for as long as the latter lived.
Before starting for his inauguration he paid her a visit, in February,
1861, when they spent the day in affectionate companionship. She had a
presentiment that she should never see him again and told him so, but
neither dreamed that he would die first. She lived until April, 1869, a
pious, gentle, intelligent, and well-loved woman, and was buried beside
her husband. Robert T. Lincoln has erected a monument over their graves.

John Johnston, Lincoln's step-brother, was an honest, but uneasy and
shiftless man, and gave him a great deal of trouble. He lived with his
mother and step-father most of his life, but never contributed much
to their support, and was always in debt, although Lincoln several
times give him means to make a fresh start. Lincoln's letters to his
step-brother, several of which have been preserved, throw considerable
light upon his character.

In 1851, after Thomas Lincoln's death, Johnston proposed to leave his
mother and go to Missouri, where he thought he could do better than
in Illinois, and asked permission to sell the farm which Lincoln had
bought to secure his step-mother a home for life.

"You propose to sell it for three hundred dollars," wrote Lincoln in
his indignation, "take one hundred dollars away with you, and leave her
two hundred dollars at eight per cent, making her the enormous sum of
sixteen dollars a year. Now, if you are satisfied with seeing her in
that way I am not."

Then Johnston proposed that Lincoln should lend him eighty dollars to
pay his expenses to Missouri.

"You say you would give your place in heaven for seventy or eighty
dollars," Lincoln wrote his step-brother. "Then you value your place in
heaven very cheap, for I am sure you can, with the offer I make, get
seventy or eighty dollars for four or five months' work. What I propose
is that you shall go to work 'tooth and nail' for somebody who will
give you money for it.... I now promise you, that for every dollar you
will, between this and the first of May, get for your own labor, either
in money or as your own indebtedness, I will then give you one other
dollar.... In this I do not mean that you shall go off to St. Louis, or
the lead mines in California, but I mean for you to go at it for the
best wages you can get close at home in Coles County. Now, if you will
do this, you will soon be out of debt, and, what is better, you will
have a habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But, if I
should now clear you out of debt, next year you would be just as deep as

A few months later Lincoln wrote Johnston again in regard to his
contemplated move to Missouri:

"What can you do in Missouri better than here? Is the land any richer?
Can you there, any more than here, raise corn and wheat and oats without
work? Will anybody there, any more than here, do your work for you? If
you intend to go to work, there is no better place than right where you
are; if you do not intend to go to work, you cannot get along anywhere.
Squirming and crawling about from place to place can do you no good. You
have raised no crop this year; and what you really want is to sell the
land, get the money, and spend it. Part with the land you have, and, my
life upon it, you will never after own a spot big enough to bury you in.
Half you will get for the land you will spend in moving to Missouri, and
the other half you will eat, drink, and wear out, and no foot of land
will be bought. Now, I feel it my duty to have no hand in such a piece
of foolery."

Shortly after leaving his father's primitive home in the spring of 1831,
Lincoln obtained employment with Denton Offutt, a trader and speculator,
who, having heard that he had already made a voyage on a flat-boat from
Indiana to New Orleans, engaged him for a similar expedition, in company
with John D. Johnston, his step-brother, and John Hanks, his cousin,
for twelve dollars a month each with their return expenses. It took
some time to build the boat, and at the very beginning of the voyage
it stuck midway across a dam at the village of New Salem. The bow was
high in the air, the stern was low in the water, and shipwreck seemed
absolutely certain when Lincoln's ingenuity rescued the craft. Having
unloaded the cargo, he bored a hole in the bottom at the end extending
over the dam; then he tilted up the boat and let the water run out. That
being done, the boat was easily shoved over the dam and reloaded. This
novel exhibition of marine engineering so impressed the inhabitants of
the neighborhood that Abraham Lincoln's genius was discussed at every
fireside for months thereafter, and he gained a reputation at New Salem
that proved to be of great value. He was so much interested in what he
had done that twenty years later he developed the idea and applied for a
patent for a curious contrivance for lifting flat-boats over shoals.

The journey to New Orleans was a valuable experience. Lincoln's first
actual contact with the system of slavery made him an abolitionist for
life, and the impressions he received were retained throughout his
entire career. He returned to St. Louis by steamer, walked across the
country to New Salem, and became a clerk in the store of Denton Offutt,
measuring calico, weighing out sugar and nails, tending a grist-mill,
and making himself useful to his employer and popular with the people.

The following year he engaged in a mercantile adventure on his own
account at New Salem which failed disastrously, and found himself loaded
with obligations which, in humorous satire upon his own folly, he called
"the national debt." His creditors accepted his notes in settlement, and
during the next seventeen years he paid them in instalments unto the
uttermost farthing, although the terrible responsibility darkened all
the days of his life.

"That debt," he once said to a friend, "was the greatest obstacle I
have ever met in my life; I had no way of speculating, and could not
earn money except by labor, and to earn by labor eleven hundred dollars
besides my living seemed the work of a lifetime. There was, however, but
one way. I went to the creditors, and told them that if they would let
me alone I would give them all I could earn over my living, as fast as I
could earn it."

As late as 1849, when a member of Congress, so we are informed by Mr.
Herndon, he sent home money saved from his salary to be applied on these
obligations. Only a single creditor refused to accept his promises.
A man named Van Bergen, who bought one of his notes on speculation,
brought suit, obtained judgment against him, and levied upon the horse,
saddle, and instruments used by him daily in surveying, and with which,
to use his own words, he "kept body and soul together."

James Short, a well-to-do farmer living a few miles north of New Salem,
heard of the trouble which had befallen his young friend, and, without
advising Lincoln, attended the sale, bought in the horse and surveying
instruments for one hundred and twenty dollars, and turned them over to
their former owner. After Lincoln left New Salem James Short removed to
the far West, and one day thirty years later he received a letter from
Washington, containing the surprising but gratifying announcement that
he had been commissioned as Indian agent.

It was this honorable discharge of the obligations in which he became
involved through the rascality of another man that gave Lincoln the
sobriquet of "Honest Old Abe," which one of his biographers has said
"proved of greater service to himself and his country than if he had
gained the wealth of Crooesus."

It was while he was struggling along, trying to do business with his
partner Berry, that he was appointed postmaster at New Salem, which
office he continued to hold until it was discontinued in May, 1836. His
duties as postmaster, as well as his compensation, were very light,
because there were only two or three hundred patrons of the office and
their correspondence was limited. He carried their letters around in his
hat and read all of their newspapers before he delivered them.

A widely circulated story that Lincoln was once a saloon-keeper was
based upon the fact that the firm of Berry & Lincoln obtained a license
to sell liquors, which was the practice of all country storekeepers in
those days; but, as a matter of fact, the firm never had money or credit
sufficient to obtain a stock of that class of goods, and committed the
offence only by intention.

In the great debate in 1858, Douglas, in a patronizing manner and
a spirit of badinage, spoke of having known Lincoln when he was a
"flourishing grocery-keeper" at New Salem. Lincoln retorted that he had
never been a "flourishing" grocery-keeper; but added that, if he had
been, it was certain that his friend, Judge Douglas, would have been his
best customer.

His employment as surveyor began in 1834 and continued for several
years while he was serving in the Legislature. John Calhoun, the County
Surveyor, from whom he received an appointment as deputy, was a man
of education and talent, and an ambitious Democratic politician who
afterwards played a prominent part in the Kansas conspiracy.

Judge Stephen T. Logan saw Lincoln for the first time in 1832. He
thus speaks of his future partner: "He was a very tall, gawky, and
rough-looking fellow then; his pantaloons didn't meet his shoes by
six inches. But after he began speaking I became very much interested
in him. He made a very sensible speech. His manner was very much the
same as in after-life; that is, the same peculiar characteristics
were apparent then, though of course in after-years he evinced more
knowledge and experience. But he had then the same novelty and the same
peculiarity in presenting his ideas. He had the same individuality that
he kept through all his life."

Like other famous men of strong character and intellectual force,
Lincoln was very sentimental, and had several love-affairs which caused
him quite as much anxiety and anguish as happiness. The scene of his
first romance was laid in Indiana when he was a barefooted boy, and was
afterwards related by him in these words:

"When I was a little codger, one day a wagon with a lady and two girls
and a man broke down near us, and while they were fixing up, they cooked
in our kitchen. The woman had books and read us stories, and they were
the first I had ever heard. I took a great fancy to one of the girls;
and when they were gone I thought of her a great deal, and one day, when
I was sitting out in the sun by the house, I wrote out a story in my
mind. I thought I took my father's horse and followed the wagon, and
finally I found it, and they were surprised to see me. I talked with the
girl and persuaded her to elope with me; and that night I put her on my
horse, and we started off across the prairie. After several hours we
came to a camp; and when we rode up we found it was the one we had left
a few hours before, and we went in. The next night we tried again, and
the same thing happened--the horse came back to the same place; and then
we concluded that we ought not to elope. I stayed until I had persuaded
her father to give her to me. I always meant to write that story out and
publish it, and I began once, but I concluded that it was not much of a
story. But I think that was the beginning of love with me."

David R. Locke, of Toledo (Petroleum V. Nasby), said, "I was in
Washington once more in 1864, when the great struggle was nearer its
close. My business was to secure a pardon for a young man from Ohio
who had deserted under rather peculiar circumstances. When he enlisted
he was under engagement to a young girl, and went to the front very
certain of her faithfulness. It is needless to say that the young girl,
being exceptionally pretty, had another lover. Taking advantage of the
absence of the favored lover, the discarded one renewed his suit with
great vehemence, and rumors reached the young man at the front that his
love had gone over to his enemy, and that he was in danger of losing her
entirely. He immediately applied for a furlough, which was refused him,
and, half mad and reckless of consequences, deserted. He married the
girl, but was immediately arrested as a deserter, tried, found guilty,
and sentenced to be shot. I stated the circumstances, giving the young
fellow a good character, and the President at once signed a pardon,

"'I want to punish the young man; probably in less than a year he will
wish I had withheld the pardon. We can't tell, though. I suppose when I
was a young man I should have done the same fool thing.'"

Among his acquaintances at New Salem while he was clerk, postmaster, and
surveyor was a blue-eyed girl named Anne Rutledge, who, according to the
local traditions, was very beautiful and attractive. Her father, James
Rutledge, was one of the founders of the village and kept the tavern at
which Lincoln was a regular boarder. He came of a distinguished family
and was especially proud of the fact that his grandfather was one of
the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Before Lincoln met his
daughter she had become engaged to John McNeill, _alias_ McNamara, one
of the wealthiest and most prosperous of the young men in that part of
Illinois. After the announcement of their engagement, McNeill went East
to arrange certain business affairs before settling down permanently
in Illinois. At first he wrote frequently to his sweetheart, but the
intervals between letters grew longer and longer, and finally they
ceased altogether.

About this time young Lincoln appeared upon the scene, and, of course,
as there were no secrets among neighbors in those days, he was informed
of the story. The poor girl's sorrow awakened a sympathy which soon
ripened into love. He saw her constantly at her father's tavern, sat
by her side at breakfast, dinner, and supper, and usually spent his
evenings with her upon the tavern steps or wandering in the lanes of
the neighborhood. It was a long time before the girl would listen to
his suit; but, convinced that her former lover was either dead or had
deserted her, she finally yielded and promised to become Lincoln's wife.
As she desired to complete her education, she went to Jacksonville to
spend the winter in an academy while he went to Springfield to attend
the session of the Legislature and continue his law studies, it being
agreed that in the spring, when he had been admitted to the bar, they
should be married; but in the mean time the girl fell ill and died.
The neighbors said that her disease was a broken heart, but the doctors
called it brain fever. Lincoln's sorrow was so intense that his friends
feared suicide. It was at this time that the profound melancholy which
he is believed to have inherited from his mother was first developed.
He never fully recovered from his grief, and, even after he had been
elected President, told a friend, "I really loved that girl and often
think of her now, and I have loved the name of Rutledge to this day."

He finally recovered his spirits and continued his law studies,
politics, and surveying. He removed to Springfield two years later,
became a partner of one of the leading attorneys of the State, and
took quite an active part in the social affairs of the State capital.
Although careless of forms and indifferent to the conventionalities
of the day, he was recognized as a rising man, and his humor and
conversational powers made him a great favorite. His name appears
frequently in the reports of social events at that time; he was an
habitual speaker at public banquets and one of the managers of a
cotillion party given at the American House, December 16, 1839.



    The pleasure of your Company is respectfully solicited at
    a Cotillion Party, to be given at the "American House", on
    to-morrow evening at 7 o'clock, P. M.

    December 16th, 1839

      M. H. RIDGELY,
      J. A. M'CLENNAND,
      R. ALLEN,
      N. H. WASH,
      F. W. TOLD,
      G. A. DOUGLASS,
      W. S. PRENTICE,
      N. W. EDWARDS,
      J. E. SPEED,
      J. SHIELDS,
      E. D. TAYLOR,
      E. H. MERRYMAN,
      N. E. WHITESIDE,
      M. EASTHAM,
      J. R. DILLER,
      A. LINCOLN,


    Copyright, 1900, by McClure, Phillips & Co.


    By special permission, from the collection of C. F. Gunther,
    Esq., Chicago

About a year after the death of Anne Rutledge he became involved
in a rather ludicrous complication with Miss Mary Owens. It was an
undignified and mortifying predicament, but the way he carried himself
showed his high sense of honor and obedience to his convictions of duty.
It began with a jest. The young lady had visited Springfield, where she
had received considerable attention, and Mrs. Able, her sister, before
starting for a visit to Kentucky, told Lincoln that she would bring her
sister back with her if he would agree to marry her. The bantering offer
was accepted, and a few months later he learned with consternation that
the young lady expected him to fulfil the agreement. Lincoln was
greatly distressed, but his sense of honor would not permit him to deny
his obligations. To Mrs. O. H. Browning, whose husband was afterwards
a United States Senator and a member of the Cabinet, he explained his
predicament, as follows: "I had told her sister that I would take her
for better or for worse, and I make a point of honor and conscience in
all things to stick to my word, especially if others had been induced to
act on it, which in this case I have no doubt they had, for I was now
fairly convinced that no other man on earth would have her, and hence
the conclusion they were bent on holding me to my bargain. At once I
determined to consider her my wife, and this done, all my powers of
discovery were put to work in search of perfections in her which might
be fairly set off against her defects."

She was several years his senior and not personally attractive, but he
assumed that she was an honorable woman with an affectionate regard
for him, and wrote her with the utmost candor, explaining his poverty
and the sacrifices that she would have to make in marrying him. "I am
afraid you would not be satisfied," he wrote; "you would have to be poor
without the means of hiding your poverty. Do you believe you could bear
that patiently? Whatever woman may cast her lot with mine, should any
ever do so, it is my intention to do all in my power to make her happy
and contented; and there is nothing I could imagine that would make me
more unhappy than to fail in the effort. I know I should be much happier
with you than the way I am, provided I saw no signs of discontent in
you. What you have said to me may have been in the way of a jest,
or I may have misunderstood it. If so, then let it be forgotten; if
otherwise, I much wish you would think seriously before you decide. What
I have said I will most positively abide by, provided you wish it. My
opinion is that you had better not do it. You have not been accustomed
to hardship, and it may be more severe than you now imagine. I know you
are capable of thinking correctly on any subject, and if you deliberate
maturely upon this before you decide, then I am willing to abide your

Miss Owens was evidently not pleased with the situation, and replied
with equal candor, telling Lincoln, among other unpleasant things,
that she never had any intention or desire to marry him, for he
was "deficient in those little links which go to make up a woman's
happiness." He rejoiced at his release, but her words stung, and he
wrote Mrs. Browning, "I was mortified in a hundred different ways. My
vanity was deeply wounded by the reflection that I had so long been too
stupid to discover her intentions, and at the same time never doubting
that I understood them perfectly; and also that she, whom I had taught
myself to believe nobody else would have, had actually rejected me with
all my fancied greatness. And, to cap the whole, I then for the first
time began to suspect that I was a little in love with her. But let it
go; I will try and outlive it. Others have been made fools of by girls,
but this can never with truth be said of me. I most emphatically, in
this instance, made a fool of myself. I have now come to the conclusion
never again to think of marrying, and for this reason, I never can be
satisfied with any one who would be blockhead enough to have me."

But it was not long before he was again involved in the chains of Cupid.
Miss Mary Todd, also of Kentucky, came to Springfield to visit her
sister, the wife of Ninian W. Edwards, one of Lincoln's colleagues in
the Legislature. She received much attention from the most prominent
young men in Springfield, including Stephen A. Douglas, James Shields,
and other of Lincoln's political associates and rivals; but it was
soon apparent that she preferred him, and against the protests of
Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, who were familiar with his hopeless pecuniary
circumstances, they became engaged.

The course of their love did not run smooth. Their tastes were
different. Miss Todd was absorbed in social pleasures and demanded
admiration and devotion. Lincoln was absorbed in his studies and
political affairs and was not so ardent a lover as she desired.
Misunderstandings and reproaches were frequent, and at last Lincoln
became so thoroughly convinced that they were unsuited to each other
that he asked to be released from the engagement. The young woman
consented with tears of anger and grief, and Lincoln, having discovered,
when it was too late, the depth of her love for him, accused himself of
a breach of honor so bitterly that it preyed upon his mind. He wrote
Joshua F. Speed, of Kentucky, who was the most intimate friend he had,
and whose brother was afterwards a member of his Cabinet, "I must regain
my confidence in my own ability to keep my resolves when they are made.
In that ability I once prided myself as the only or the chief gem of my
character. That gem I have lost. How and where you know too well. I have
not yet regained it, and until I do I cannot trust myself in any matter
of much importance."

Everybody in Springfield knew of the broken engagement and that it
was the cause of Mr. Lincoln's intense remorse and melancholy. He
did not deny or attempt to disguise it. He wrote Mr. Stuart, his law
partner, three weeks after the fatal first of January, "I am now the
most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to
the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth.
Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forebode that I
shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or get better."
To other of his intimates he spoke with equal freedom of the sense of
dishonor and despair that possessed him, and they persuaded him to
visit his friend Speed, who carried him off to Kentucky and kept him
for several months. The visit did much to brighten his spirits, and
his own distress was forgotten in his efforts to comfort Speed, who in
the meantime had become engaged, was afraid that he did not love his
sweetheart well enough to marry her, and confided his doubts to Lincoln.

In the mean time Miss Todd appears to have regained her self-possession
and calmly awaited the will of the fates who were to restore relations
with her sensitive and remorseful lover. The incident which finally
brought them together was a comedy of national interest.

Among the most conspicuous Democratic politicians in Illinois at that
time was James Shields, an impulsive Irishman of diminutive stature who
was afterwards a general in two wars and a member of the United States
Senate from two States. His ardent admiration for the ladies and his
personal eccentricities exposed him to ridicule, about which he was
very sensitive, and when he found himself the subject of a satirical
letter and doggerel poem in a Springfield newspaper he became enraged,
called upon the editor, and demanded the name of the author. The satires
happened to have been the joint composition of Miss Todd and Julia
Jayne, one of her girl friends, who afterwards became the wife of Lyman
Trumbull. In his dilemma the editor asked the advice of Mr. Lincoln, who

"Tell Shields that I wrote them."

Whereupon he received a challenge which was promptly accepted. According
to the code, Lincoln, being the party challenged, was entitled to the
choice of weapons, and, as he did not believe in duelling, he tried to
compel Shields to withdraw his challenge by proposing the most absurd
conditions, which, however, Shields accepted without appearing to
perceive the purpose of his antagonist. Lincoln was a very tall man
with unusually long arms. Shields was very short,--so short that his
head did not reach to Lincoln's shoulder,--yet the conditions were that
they should go down to an island in the Mississippi River and fight
with broadswords across a plank set up on edge, and whichever of the
contestants retreated three feet back of the plank lost the battle.

The parties actually went across the country,--a journey of three days
on horseback,--the plank was set on edge, and the battle was about to
begin when mutual friends intervened and put an end to the nonsense. One
of the spectators described the scene in most graphic language; how the
two antagonists were seated on logs while their seconds arranged the
plank. "Lincoln's face was grave and serious," he said, "although he
must have been shaking with suppressed amusement. Presently he reached
over and picked up one of the swords, which he drew from its scabbard.
Then he felt along the edge of the weapon with his thumb like a barber
feels of the edge of his razor, raised himself to his full height,
stretched out his long arm, and clipped off a twig above his head
with the sword. There wasn't another man of us who could have reached
anywhere near that twig, and the absurdity of that long-reaching fellow
fighting with cavalry sabres with Shields, who could walk under his arm,
came pretty near making me howl with laughter. After Lincoln had cut off
the twig, he returned the sword solemnly to the scabbard and sat down
again on the log."

Upon the return of the duelling party to Springfield, several
conflicting explanations were made by friends, the supporters of Lincoln
making the affair as ridiculous as possible, while the defenders of
Shields endeavored to turn it to his credit. It was Lincoln's last
personal quarrel. Happily, more ink than blood was shed, but the
gossips of Springfield were furnished the most exciting topic of the
generation, and Miss Todd and Mr. Lincoln, who had been estranged for
nearly a year, were brought together with mutual gratification. On
November 4, 1842, they were married at the residence of Mr. Edwards, the
brother-in-law of the bride, and Mr. Lincoln's melancholy disappeared
or was dissipated by the sunshine of a happy home. He took his bride to
board at the Globe Tavern, where, he wrote his friend Speed, the charges
were four dollars a week for both, and returned to the practical routine
of his daily life with the patience, industry, and intelligence which
were his greatest characteristics. His partnership with Stuart lasted
four years until the latter was elected to Congress, when a new one was
formed with Judge Stephen T. Logan, who had studied Lincoln's character
and learned his ability while presiding upon the circuit bench.


From a photograph by Brady in the War Department Collection]

Mr. Lincoln's talent was acknowledged by every one who knew him. He
was rapidly assuming leadership in politics and at the bar. Compared
with most of his neighbors and associates he was a man of learning,
and his wisdom and sense of justice made him an umpire and arbitrator
in all forms of contest from wrestling matches to dissensions among
husbands and wives. His gentle sympathy, sincerity, candor, and fearless
honesty were recognized and appreciated by the entire community. No
man in Springfield or in that part of the State where he was best
known ever questioned his word or his integrity of character. With the
encouragement of Judge Logan, he undertook a deeper and more serious
study of the law, and the eminence of his partner brought to the firm
much lucrative business which Lincoln was able to manage. His income
increased in a corresponding manner, and he was able to indulge his wife
and family in greater comforts and luxuries; but at the same time he
was very poor. His step-mother and step-brother were burdens upon him;
he was still struggling to pay what he called "the national debt" as
rapidly as possible, and laid aside every cent he could spare from his
household expenses for that purpose.

But he was never a money-maker. That talent was sadly lacking in him
as in other great men. While he was in New York to make his Cooper
Institute speech in the spring of 1860, he met an old acquaintance from
Illinois, whom he addressed with an inquiry as to how he had fared
since leaving the West. "I have made a hundred thousand dollars and
lost all," was his reply. Then, turning questioner, he said, "How is it
with you, Mr. Lincoln?" "Oh, very well," he said; "I have a cottage at
Springfield and about eight thousand dollars in money. If they make me
Vice-President with Seward, as some say they will, I hope I shall be
able to increase it to twenty thousand; and that is as much as any man
ought to want."

With the fee received from one of his earliest important cases he
purchased a modest frame house in an unfashionable part of Springfield,
which was afterwards enlarged, and was his only home. It was also the
only piece of property he ever owned, with the exception of two tracts
of wild land in Iowa which he received from Congress for his services in
the Black Hawk War. In that house he received the committee that came to
notify him of his nomination for the Presidency, and its members were
impressed with the simplicity of his life and surroundings. It was more
comfortable than commodious, and not unlike the residences of well-to-do
members of his profession throughout the country. He lived well, he was
hospitable to his friends, and Mrs. Lincoln took an active part in the
social affairs of the community.

One who often visited him, referring to "the old-fashioned hospitality
of Springfield," writes, "Among others I recall with a sad pleasure the
dinners and evening parties given by Mrs. Lincoln. In her modest and
simple home, where everything was so orderly and refined, there was
always on the part of both host and hostess a cordial and hearty Western
welcome which put every guest perfectly at ease. Their table was famed
for the excellence of many rare Kentucky dishes, and for venison, wild
turkeys, and other game, then so abundant. Yet it was her genial manner
and ever-kind welcome, and Mr. Lincoln's wit and humor, anecdote and
unrivalled conversation, which formed the chief attraction."

They had four children: Edward Baker, born March 10, 1846, who died in
infancy; William Wallace, born December 21, 1850, died in the White
House February 20, 1862; Thomas, born April 4, 1853, died in Chicago
July 15, 1871; and Robert Todd, the only survivor, born August 1,
1843, a graduate of Harvard University and a lawyer by profession.
He filled with distinction the office of Secretary of War during
the administrations of Presidents Garfield and Arthur, was minister
to England under President Harrison, and now resides in Chicago as
President of the Pullman Sleeping Car Company.

Mr. Lincoln was very fond of his children, and many anecdotes are
related of his adventures with them. He frequently took his boys about
with him, finding more satisfaction in their companionship than among
his old associates. He seldom went to his office in the morning without
carrying his youngest child down the street on his shoulder, while the
older ones clung to his hands or coat-tails. Every child in Springfield
knew and loved him, for his sympathy seemed to comprehend them all. It
has been said that there was no institution in Springfield in which
he did not take an active interest. He made a daily visit to a drug
store on the public square which was the rendezvous of politicians and
lawyers, and on Sunday morning was always to be found in his pew in the
First Presbyterian Church. He was one of the most modest yet the most
honored member of the community, and his affection for his neighbors
could have been no better expressed than in his few words of farewell
when he left Springfield for his inauguration at Washington:

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

Mrs. Lincoln died at the residence of her sister, Mrs. Ninian W.
Edwards, in Springfield, July 16, 1882. Dr. Thomas W. Dresser, her
physician during her last illness, says of her, "In the late years of
her life mental peculiarities were developed which finally culminated
in a slight apoplexy, producing paralysis of which she died. Among
the peculiarities alluded to, one of the most singular was the habit
she had during the last year or so of her life of immuring herself
in a perfectly dark room and, for light, using a small candle-light,
even when the sun was shining bright out of doors. No urging would
induce her to go out into the fresh air. Another peculiarity was the
accumulation of large quantities of silks and dress goods in trunks
and by the cart-load, which she never used and which accumulated until
it was really feared that the floor of the storeroom would give way.
She was bright and sparkling in conversation, and her memory remained
singularly good up to the very close of her life. Her face was animated
and pleasing, and to me she was always an interesting woman; and while
the whole world was finding fault with her temper and disposition, it
was clear to me that the trouble was really a cerebral disease."

In appearance Lincoln was a very plain man. Folks called him ugly, but
his ugliness was impressive. He was gaunt and awkward, his limbs and
arms were very long, his hands and feet were large, and his knuckles
were prominent. His neck was long, the skin was coarse and wrinkled and
the sinews showed under it. There was so little flesh upon his face that
his features were more pronounced than they otherwise would have been.
His nose and chin were especially prominent. In all his movements he was
as awkward as he was uncouth in appearance, but it was an awkwardness
that was often eloquent.

General Fry left this pen portrait: "Lincoln was tall and thin; his long
bones were united by large joints, and he had a long neck and an angular
face and head. Many likenesses represent his face well enough, but none
that I have ever seen do justice to the awkwardness and ungainliness
of his figure. His feet, hanging loosely to his ankles, were prominent
objects; but his hands were more conspicuous even than his feet,--due,
perhaps, to the fact that ceremony at times compelled him to clothe them
in white kid gloves, which always fitted loosely. Both in the height
of conversation and in the depth of reflection his hand now and then
ran over or supported his head, giving his hair habitually a disordered

Mr. Lincoln's indifference about dress did not improve his appearance.
His old-fashioned "stovepipe hat" was as familiar an object around
Washington as it was in Springfield, and his family and associates
were unable to induce him to purchase a new one. He usually wore a suit
of broadcloth with a long frock coat, the customary garments of the
legal profession in the West and South in those days, and, instead of
an overcoat, a gray shawl which was more than half the time hanging
carelessly over one shoulder.

He enjoyed jokes at the expense of his personal appearance, and used to
appropriate to himself this ancient incident which has been told of so
many other ugly men. "In the days when I used to be on the circuit," he
often said, "I was once accosted in the cars by a stranger, who said,
'Excuse me, sir, but I have an article in my possession which belongs to
you.' 'How is that?' I asked, considerably astonished. The stranger took
a jack-knife from his pocket. 'This knife,' said he, 'was placed in my
hands some years ago with the injunction that I was to keep it until I
found a man uglier than myself. I have carried it from that time until
this. Allow me now to say, sir, that I think you are fairly entitled to
the property.'"

Another of his stories about himself concerned a certain honest old
farmer who, visiting the capital for the first time, was taken by the
member from his "deestrick" to some large gathering at which he was told
he could see the President. Unfortunately, Mr. Lincoln did not appear;
and the Congressman, being a bit of a wag and not liking to have his
constituent disappointed, pointed out a gentleman of a particularly
round and rubicund countenance. The worthy farmer, greatly astonished,
exclaimed, "Is that Old Abe? Well, I do declare! He's a better-looking
man than I expected to see; but it does seem as if his troubles had
driven him to drink."

One night Lincoln had a dream which he used to relate with great gusto
to his friends and family. He said that he was in some great assembly
and the crowd opened to let him pass. One of the multitude remarked,
"He is a common-looking fellow," whereupon Lincoln turned and rebuked
him, saying, "Friend, the Lord prefers common-looking people; that is
why he made so many of them."

As is well known, Mr. Lincoln's nature sought relief in trying
situations by recalling incidents or anecdotes of a humorous character.
It was his safety-valve, and when his memory awakened the story he
sought, there would be a sudden and radical transformation of his
features. His face would glow, his eyes would twinkle, and his lips
would curl and quiver. His face was often an impenetrable mask, and
people who watched him when a perplexing question was proposed, or when
he was in doubt as to his duty, could never interpret what was going
on in his mind. He never declined to face any person, however annoying
or dangerous, and this faith in his own strength sufficed to guide him
through some of the severest trials that have ever fallen to the lot of
a public man.

At times Mr. Lincoln stood almost transfigured, and those who were with
him declare that his face would light up with a beauty as if it were
inspired. When in repose it wore an expression of infinite sadness,
which was due to his natural melancholy temperament as well as to
the continual strain of anxiety and his familiarity with the horrors
inseparable from war. There was no heart so tender for the sufferings
and sorrows of the soldiers and their families in all the country, and
he seemed to share the anguish of the broken-hearted mothers whose sons
had fallen in battle or were starving in prison beyond his rescue.
When death entered his own household his sorrow could scarcely be
measured; his sympathetic soul yielded so often to importunities that
his generals declared that he was destroying the discipline of the army.
His own career had been an incessant struggle, a ceaseless endeavor,
and his tenderness is traceable to impressions thus formed. No man
ever occupied a similar position whose experience had been so closely
parallel with that of the plain people he represented. Nowhere in all
literature can be found a more appropriate or touching expression of
sympathy than his letter to Mrs. Bixby, of Boston, who, it was then
supposed, had given five sons to her country:

    "DEAR MADAM:--I have been shown, in the files of the
    War Department, a statement of the Adjutant-General of
    Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have
    died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and
    fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to
    beguile you from a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain
    from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the
    thanks of the Republic that they have died to save. I pray that
    our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement,
    and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost
    and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a
    sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

        "Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
            "ABRAHAM LINCOLN."

Mr. D. R. Locke (Petroleum V. Nasby), of whose writings he was so fond,
said, "Those who accuse Lincoln of frivolity never knew him. I never
saw a more thoughtful face, I never saw a more dignified face, I never
saw so sad a face. He had humor of which he was totally unconscious,
but it was not frivolity. He said wonderfully witty things, but never
from a desire to be witty. His wit was entirely illustrative. He used
it because, and only because, at times he could say more in this way
and better illustrate the idea with which he was pregnant. He never
cared how he made a point so that he made it, and he never told a story
for the mere sake of telling a story. When he did it, it was for the
purpose of illustrating and making clear a point. He was essentially
epigrammatic and parabolic. He was a master of satire, which at times
was as blunt as a meat-axe and at others as keen as a razor; but it was
always kindly except when some horrible injustice was its inspiration,
and then it was terrible. Weakness he was never ferocious with, but
intentional wickedness he never spared."

One day the Hon. Thaddeus Stevens called at the White House with
an elderly lady in great trouble, whose son had been in the army,
but for some offence had been court-martialled and sentenced either
to death or imprisonment at hard labor for a long term. There were
extenuating circumstances, and after a full hearing the President
said, "Mr. Stevens, do you think this is a case which will warrant my
interference?" "With my knowledge of the facts and parties," was the
reply, "I should have no hesitation in granting a pardon." "Then,"
returned Mr. Lincoln, "I will pardon him," and he proceeded forthwith
to execute the paper. The gratitude of the mother was too deep for
expression, save by tears, and not a word was said until half-way down
the stairs, when she suddenly broke forth, in an excited manner,--

"I knew it was a Copperhead lie!"

"What do you mean, madam?" asked Mr. Stevens.

"Why, they told me he was an ugly looking man," she replied with
vehemence. "He is the handsomest man I ever saw in all my life."

The doorkeepers at the White House had standing orders that, no matter
how great might be the throng, the President would see every person who
came to him with a petition for the saving of life. A woman carrying a
baby came three days in succession. Her husband had deserted from the
army, and had been caught and sentenced to be shot. While going through
the anteroom, Mr. Lincoln heard the child cry, rang a bell, and, when
the doorkeeper came, asked,--

"Daniel, is there a woman with a baby in the anteroom? Send her to me at

She went in, told her story, and the President pardoned her husband. As
she came out from his presence her lips were moving in prayer and the
tears were streaming down her cheeks.

"Madam, it was the baby that did it!" said the messenger.

Mr. A. B. Chandler, who had charge of the telegraph office at the War
Department, says that on several occasions Lincoln came to the office
near midnight with a message written by his own hand in order that
there should be no mistake or delay in sending respite to a condemned
soldier. "I think," said Mr. Chandler, "he never failed to interpose his
power to prevent the execution of a soldier for sleeping at his post,
or any other than a wilful and malicious act; and even in such cases,
when brought to his attention, he made the most careful review of the
facts, and always seemed more anxious to find the offender innocent than
guilty; and when guilty he was disposed to take into consideration,
as far as possible, any extenuating circumstances in favor of the

"On New Year's morning, 1864," continued Mr. Chandler, "Mr. Lincoln was
about opening the door of the military telegraph office. A woman stood
in the hall, crying. Mr. Lincoln had observed this, and as soon as he
was seated he said to Major Eckert, 'What is the woman crying about just
outside your door? I wish you would go and see,' said Mr. Lincoln. So
the major went out and learned that the woman had come to Washington
expecting to be able to go to the army and see her soldier husband,
which was not altogether unusual for ladies to do while the army was in
the winter-quarters; but very strict orders had recently been issued
prohibiting women from visiting the army, and she found herself with her
child, in Washington, incurring more expense than she supposed would
be necessary, with very little money, and in great grief. This being
explained to the President, he said, in his frank, off-hand way, 'Come,
now, let's send her down: what do you say?'

"The major explained the strict orders that the Department had issued
lately, the propriety of which Mr. Lincoln recognized, but he was still
unwilling to yield his purpose. Finally the major suggested that a leave
of absence to come to Washington might be given the woman's husband.
The President quickly adopted the suggestion, and directed that Colonel
Hardie, an assistant adjutant-general on duty in an adjoining room,
should make an official order permitting the man to come to Washington."

But when provoked, or when his sense of justice was violated, Lincoln
showed a terrible temper. It is related that on one occasion when the
California delegation in Congress called upon him to present a nominee
for an office, they disputed the right of Senator Baker, of Oregon,
to be consulted respecting the patronage of the Pacific coast. One of
them unwisely attacked the private character and motives of the Oregon
Senator, forgetting that he had been one of Lincoln's oldest and closest
friends in Illinois. The President's indignation was aroused instantly,
and he defended Baker and denounced his accusers with a vehemence that
is described as terrible. The California delegation never questioned the
integrity of his friends again.

"Of all public men," said John B. Alley, "none seemed to have so little
pride of opinion. He was always learning, and did not adhere to views
which he found to be erroneous, simply because he had once formed and
held them. I remember that he once expressed an opinion to me, on an
important matter, quite different from what he had expressed a short
time before, and I said, 'Mr. President, you have changed your mind
entirely within a short time.' He replied, 'Yes, I have; and I don't
think much of a man who is not wiser to-day than he was yesterday.' A
remark full of wisdom and sound philosophy. Mr. Lincoln was so sensible,
so broad-minded, so philosophical, so noble in his nature, that he saw
only increasing wisdom in enlarged experience and observation."

Senator Conners, of California, said, "One morning I called on the
President to talk with him on some public business, and as soon as
we met he began by asking if I knew Captain Maltby, now living in
California, saying, 'He is visiting here and his wife is with him.'
I replied that I knew of him, and had heard he was in Washington. He
said that when he first came to Springfield, where he was unknown, and
a carpet-bag contained all he owned in the world, and he was needing
friends, Captain Maltby and his wife took him into their modest
dwelling; that he lived with them while he 'put out his shingle' and
sought business.

"He had known Maltby during the period of the Black Hawk War. No one
was ever treated more kindly than he was by them. He had risen in
the world and they were poor, and Captain Maltby wanted some place
which would give him a living. 'In fact,' said he, 'Maltby wants to
be Superintendent of the Mint at San Francisco, but he is hardly
equal to that. I want to find some place for him, and into which he
will fit, and I know nothing about these things.' I said, 'There is
a place--Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California--where the
incumbent should be superseded for cause, and the place is simply a
great farm, where the government supplies the means of carrying it
on; there is an abundance of Indian labor, and making it produce and
accounting for the products are the duties principally.' He replied,
'Maltby is the man for this place,' and he was made entirely happy by
being able to serve an old and good man."



Abraham Lincoln inherited his love of learning from his mother, who was
superior in intelligence and refinement to the women of her class and
time. His ambition to become a lawyer was inspired by a copy of the
Revised Statutes of Indiana which accidentally fell into his hands when
he was a mere boy in the swampy forests of the southern section of that
State. In the brief autobiography already referred to, which he prepared
for the newspapers to gratify public curiosity when he was nominated as
a candidate for President, he says that he "went to school by littles;
in all, it did not amount to more than a year," and he afterwards told
a friend that he "read through every book he ever heard of in that
country for a circuit of fifty miles." These included Weems's "Life of
Washington," Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," Æsop's "Fables," "Robinson
Crusoe," a History of the United States whose author is not named, the
Bible, and the Statutes of Indiana.

This is the catalogue he gave of the books he knew in his youth. His
biographer included Plutarch's "Lives," and when the advanced sheets
of the campaign sketch reached Lincoln he gave a curious exhibition of
his habitual accuracy by calling attention to the fact that this was
not exact when it was written, "for, up to that moment in my life, I
had never seen that early contribution to human history; but I want
your book, even if it is nothing more than a mere campaign sketch, to
be faithful to the facts, and, in order that the statement might be
literally true, I secured the book (Plutarch's 'Lives') a few weeks ago
and have sent for you to tell you that I have just read it through."

It is quite remarkable that a country lad, almost illiterate, should
have found a volume of statutes interesting reading, but Lincoln read
and reread it until he had almost committed its contents to memory, and
in after-years, when any one cited an Indiana law, he could usually
repeat the exact text and often give the numbers of the page, chapter,
and paragraph. The book belonged to David Turnham, who seems to have
been a constable or magistrate in that part of Indiana, and this
volume constituted his professional library. The actual copy is now
preserved in the library of the New York Law Institute. The binding
is worn and the title-page and a few leaves at the end are missing.
Besides the statutes as enacted up to 1824, it contains the Declaration
of Independence, the Constitutions of the United States and the State
of Indiana, and the Act of Virginia, passed in 1783, by which "The
territory North Westward of the river Ohio" was conveyed to the United
States, and the ordinance of 1787 for governing that territory, of which
Article VI. reads:

"There shall neither be slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said
territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party
shall be duly convicted; provided always, that any person escaping
into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed, in any
one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed,
and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as

It is an interesting coincidence that Abraham Lincoln should not only
have received the impressions which guided him in the choice of his
career from this volume, but also his first knowledge of the legal side
of slavery. Before he finished that book he knew the principles upon
which the government of the United States was founded and how they were
applied in the States. Its contents were fastened upon his memory by
copying long extracts with a quill of a turkey-buzzard and ink home-made
from the juice of the brier root. When he had no paper he wrote upon
a shingle, and, after he had committed to memory the paragraphs so
preserved, he would shave off the shingle with his knife and write
others. When he was in the field ploughing or cultivating he took a book
with him, and when he stopped to rest would pull it from his pocket and
read until it was time to resume work again. In after-life, even when
he came to the White House, he used to speak of the impressions made
upon his mind by the "Life of Washington," and always contended that it
was better for the young men of the country to regard Washington in the
light of a demigod, as Parson Weems describes him, than to shake their
faith in the greatest hero of American history by narrating his mistakes
and follies as if he were a common man.

He never lost his love for "Pilgrim's Progress" or "Robinson Crusoe."
The characters in both were real to him, and to the end of his days he
could repeat Æsop's "Fables" verbatim.

In those days schools were very scarce and poor; the teachers were
usually incompetent itinerant adventurers or men too lazy or feeble to
do the manual labor required of frontiersmen. They were paid a trifling
fee for each scholar and "boarded 'round." Nothing was expected of
them in the way of education beyond a knowledge of the three R's, and
Lincoln, of all famous self-made men, owed the least of his intellectual
strength and knowledge to teachers and books and the most to observation
and human contact. When he was upon his eventful "speaking trip," as
he called it, in New England, in the spring of 1860, a clergyman of
Hartford was so impressed by the language and logic of his address that
he inquired where he was educated. Mr. Lincoln replied,--

"Well, as to education, the newspapers are correct. I never went to
school more than six months in my life. I can say this: that among
my earliest recollections I remember how, when a mere child, I used
to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way that I could not
understand. I can remember going to my little bedroom, after hearing the
neighbors talk of an evening with my father, and spending no small part
of the night trying to make out what was the exact meaning of some of
their, to me, dark sayings.

"I could not sleep, although I tried to, when I got on such a hunt for
an idea until I had caught it; and when I thought I had got it I was
not satisfied until I had repeated it over and over again, until I had
put it in language plain enough, as I thought, for any boy I knew to
comprehend. This was a kind of passion with me, and it has stuck by me;
for I am never easy now, when I am handling a thought, until I have
bounded it north and bounded it south and bounded it east and bounded it

Among the papers of the late Charles Lanman there is a sketch of
Mr. Lincoln, written in his own hand. Mr. Lanman was editor of the
_Congressional Directory_ at the time that Mr. Lincoln was elected to
Congress, and, according to the ordinary custom, forwarded to him, as
well as to all the other members-elect, a blank to be filled out with
facts and dates which might be made the basis for a biographical sketch
in the _Directory_. Lincoln's blank was returned promptly filled up in
his own handwriting, with the following information:

"Born February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky.

"Education defective.

"Profession, lawyer.

"Military service, captain of volunteers in the Black Hawk War.

"Offices held: postmaster at a very small office; four times a member
of the Illinois Legislature, and elected to the Lower House of the next

Mr. Leonard Swett, who was closely identified with Mr. Lincoln for many
years, says,--

"In the fall of 1853, as I was riding with Mr. Lincoln, I said, 'I have
heard a great many curious incidents of your early life, and I would be
obliged if you would begin at your earliest recollection and tell me the
story of it continuously.'

"'I can remember,' he said, 'our life in Kentucky: the cabin, the
stinted living, the sale of our possessions, and the journey with my
father and mother to Southern Indiana.' I think he said he was then
about six years old. Shortly after his arrival in Indiana his mother
died. 'It was pretty pinching times at first in Indiana, getting the
cabin built, and the clearing for the crops, but presently we got
reasonably comfortable, and my father married again.'

"He had very faint recollections of his own mother, he was so young when
she died; but he spoke most kindly of her and of his step-mother, and
her cares for him in providing for his wants.

"'My father,' he said, 'had suffered greatly for the want of an
education, and he determined at an early day that I should be well
educated. And what do you think his ideas of a good education were? We
had a dog-eared arithmetic in our house, and father determined that
somehow, or somehow else, I should cipher clear through that book.'

"With this standard of an education, he started to a school in a
log-house in the neighborhood, and began his educational career. He
had attended this school but about six weeks, however, when a calamity
befell his father. He had endorsed a man's note in the neighborhood for
a considerable amount, and the prospect was he would have it to pay,
and that would sweep away all their little possessions. His father,
therefore, explained to him that he wanted to hire him out and
receive the fruits of his labor and his aid in averting this calamity.
Accordingly, at the expiration of six weeks, he left school and never
returned to it again."

[Illustration: Copyright, 1900 by McClure, Phillips & Co.


From a photograph in the collection of H. W. Fay, Esq., De Kalb,
Illinois. By special permission]

He first attended school when he was about seven years old and still
living in Kentucky. It was held in a little log-hut near their cabin,
and was taught by Zachariah Riney, an Irish Catholic of whom he retained
a pleasant memory, for it was there that he learned to read. The next
year Caleb Hazel opened a school about four miles distant, which Lincoln
attended for three months with his sister Sarah, and both of them
learned to write. He had no more teaching while he lived in Kentucky,
except from his mother. There is no record of his schooling in Indiana,
but the neighbors testify that in his tenth year he attended school for
a few months in a small cabin of round logs about a mile and a half from
the rude home of his father; there he went again for a few months when
he was fourteen years old, and again in 1826, when he was seventeen, to
a man named Swaney, who taught at a distance of four miles and a half
from the Lincoln cabin. He had little encouragement from his father,
for the latter considered the daily walk of nine miles and the six
hours spent in the school-room a waste of time for a boy six feet tall.
His step-mother, however, endeavored to encourage and protect him in
his efforts to learn, and they studied together. He read her the books
he borrowed, and they used to discuss the unintelligible passages. He
was not remarkably quick at learning. On the contrary, his perceptions
were rather dull; but that is often an advantage to a studious mind, as
everything increases in value with the effort required to attain it.
His memory was good, his power of reasoning was early developed, and a
habit of reflection was acquired at an early age. He once remarked to
a friend that his mind did not take impressions easily, but they were
never effaced. "I am slow to learn, and slow to forget that which I
have learned," he said. "My mind is like a piece of steel--very hard to
scratch anything on it, and almost impossible after you get it there
to rub it out." The fact that he never abandoned an idea until it was
thoroughly understood was the foundation of a healthy mental growth.

At this time, when he was seventeen years old, he had a general
knowledge of the rudiments of learning. He was a good arithmetician, he
had some knowledge of geography and history, he could "spell down" the
whole county at spelling-school, and wrote a clear and neat hand. His
general reading embraced poetry and a few novels. He even attempted to
make rhymes, although he was not very successful. He wrote several prose
compositions, and it is related that "one of the most popular amusements
in the neighborhood was to hear Abe Lincoln make a comic speech."

Lincoln received no more teaching, but continued his reading and study
until his family removed to Illinois. When he went to New Salem, after
he had made his second voyage to New Orleans, and was waiting for Denton
Offutt to open his store, a local election was held. One of the clerks
of election being unable to attend, Menton Graham, the other clerk, who
was also the village school-master, asked Lincoln if he could write.

"I can make a few rabbit tracks," was the reply, and upon that admission
he was sworn into his first office.

Thus began one of the most useful friendships he ever enjoyed, for
Graham was an intelligent and sympathetic friend who inspired the future
President with ambition, nourished his appetite for knowledge, loaned
him books, assisted him in his studies, heard him recite, corrected his
compositions, and was his constant companion while he was clerking in
Offutt's store. One day Graham told him that he ought to study grammar,
and the next morning Lincoln walked six miles to a neighboring town
to obtain a copy of Kirkham's "Grammar." This volume was found in his
library after his death. It was Graham, too, who in six weeks taught
him the science of surveying after Lincoln was appointed deputy to John
Calhoun. From none of his many friends did he receive more valuable
counsel and assistance.

After he was admitted to the bar and became a member of the Legislature,
he continued a regular course of study, including mathematics, logic,
rhetoric, astronomy, literature, and other branches, devoting a certain
number of hours to it every day. He followed this rule even after his
marriage, and several years after his return from Congress he joined a
German class which met in his office two evenings a week.

His early friends have always contended that his devotion to study
hastened the failure of the mercantile enterprise which caused him so
much anxiety and left the burden of debt upon his shoulders which he
carried so many years; for when he should have been attending to the
store and watching the dissolute habits of his partner, he was absorbed
in his books.

His ambition to be a lawyer was stimulated by a curious incident that
occurred soon after he went into partnership with Berry. He related it
himself in these words:

"One day a man who was migrating to the West drove up in front of my
store with a wagon which contained his family and household plunder.
He asked me if I would buy an old barrel for which he had no room in
his wagon, and which he said contained nothing of special value. I did
not want it, but to oblige him I bought it, and paid him, I think,
half a dollar for it. Without further examination I put it away in the
store and forgot all about it. Some time after, in overhauling things,
I came upon the barrel, and emptying it upon the floor to see what it
contained, I found at the bottom of the rubbish a complete edition of
Blackstone's 'Commentaries.' I began to read those famous works, and I
had plenty of time; for during the long summer days, when the farmers
were busy with their crops, my customers were few and far between. The
more I read"--this he said with unusual emphasis--"the more intensely
interested I became. Never in my whole life was my mind so thoroughly
absorbed. I read until I devoured them."

It was while he was still a deputy surveyor that Lincoln was elected to
the Legislature, and in his autobiographical notes he says, "During the
canvass, in a private conversation, Major John T. Stuart (one of his
fellow-candidates) encouraged Abraham to study law. After the election
he borrowed books of Stuart, took them home with him and went at it in
good earnest. He never studied with anybody. As he tramped back and
forth from Springfield, twenty miles away, to get his law books, he read
sometimes forty pages or more on the way. The subject seemed to be never
out of his mind. It was the great absorbing interest of his life." The
rule he gave twenty years later to a young man who wanted to know how to
become a lawyer, was the one he practised: "Get books and read and study
them carefully. Begin with Blackstone's 'Commentaries,' say twice, take
Chitty's 'Pleadings,' Greenleaf's 'Evidence,' and Story's 'Equity,' in
succession. Work, work, work is the main thing."

Immediately after his election he went to Springfield and was admitted
to the bar on September 9, 1836. His name first appears upon the list
of the attorneys and counsellors-at-law published at the opening of the
next term, March 1, 1837. As there was no lawyer in the neighborhood
of New Salem, and none nearer than Springfield, Lincoln had obtained a
little practice in petty cases before the village magistrate, and it is
stated that, poor as he was, he never accepted a fee for such services
because he felt that he was fully paid by the experience.

For a long time he was in doubt as to the expediency of abandoning his
work as surveyor, which brought him from twelve to fifteen dollars a
month, for the uncertain income of a lawyer, for he was still burdened
by debt, and was constantly called upon for money by his step-mother
and step-brother; but John T. Stuart, with whom he had been associated
in politics and in the Black Hawk War, and who had proved to be a true
friend, offered him a partnership, and Stuart was one of the leading
lawyers of the State. Therefore, Lincoln decided to take the chances,
and, on April 15, 1837, rode into Springfield, says his friend Joshua
Speed, "on a borrowed horse, with no earthly property save a pair of
saddle-bags containing a few clothes."

His first case was that of Hawthorne vs. Woolridge, his first fee was
three dollars, and he made his first appearance in court in October,
1836. We do not know the details. He created a sensation the following
summer, and for the first time revealed some of the characteristics
which afterwards made him famous by his merciless pursuit of a rascal
named Adams who had swindled the widow of one Joseph Anderson out of
some land. His treatment of this case advertised him far and wide in
the country around Springfield as a shrewd practitioner and a man of
tireless energy, and it doubtless brought him considerable business.
The account-book of Stuart & Lincoln is still preserved, and shows that
their fees were very small,--not exceeding sixteen hundred dollars for
the year and seldom more than ten dollars in a case; while many of them
were traded out at the town groceries, and, in the case of farmers, were
paid in vegetables, poultry, butter, and other produce. But that was the
custom of the time, and at that date a fee of one hundred dollars was as
rare as one of ten thousand dollars now.

In those days, because of the scattering population and the absence of
transportation facilities, it was customary for courts to travel in
circuits, each circuit being presided over by a judge who went from
one county-seat to another twice a year to hear whatever cases had
accumulated upon the docket. Springfield was situated in the Eighth
Judicial Circuit, which at that time was one hundred and fifty miles
square, including fifteen counties comprising the central part of
Illinois. As there were no railroads, the judge travelled on horseback
or in a carriage, followed by a number of lawyers. The best-known
lawyers had central offices at Springfield and branch offices at the
different county-seats, where they were represented permanently by
junior partners, who prepared their cases and attended to litigation of
minor importance.

When the county-seat was reached the judge was given the best room at
the hotel and presided at the dining-room table, surrounded by lawyers,
jurors, witnesses, litigants, prisoners out on bail, and even the men
who drove their teams. The hotels were primitive and limited, and,
as the sitting of a court usually attracted all the idle men in the
vicinity, the landlords were taxed to accommodate their guests, and
packed them in as closely as possible; usually two in a bed and often
as many as could find room on the floor. The townspeople made the
semi-annual meeting of the court an occasion for social festivities,
the judge being the guest of honor at dinners, receptions, quiltings,
huskings, weddings, and other entertainments, while the lawyers ranked
according to their social standing and accomplishments.

In some of the towns there was no court-house, and trials were held in a
church or a school-house, and sometimes, when the weather was favorable,
in the open air.

When there was no entertainment of an evening, the members of the bar
and their clients who were not preparing for a trial on the morrow
amused themselves by playing cards, telling stories, and discussing
public affairs, so that all who "followed the circuit" became
thoroughly acquainted and each was estimated according to his true
value. Trials of general interest were attended by the entire cavalcade,
but dull arguments and routine business attracted the attention of those
only who were personally concerned. In the mean time the rest of the
party would sit around the tavern or court-house yard, entertaining
themselves and one another in the most agreeable manner, and naturally
Mr. Lincoln's talents as a story-teller made him popular and his
personal character made him beloved by every one with whom he came in
contact. The meeting of the Supreme Court once a year at Springfield
was the great event, next to the assembling of the Legislature, and
served as a reunion of the ablest men in the State. These usually had
causes to try or motions to submit, or if they had none would make some
excuse for attending the gathering. The Supreme Court Library was their
rendezvous, and Lincoln was the centre of attraction, even when he was a
young man; when he became older his presence was regarded as necessary
to a successful evening. His stories were as much a part of these annual
gatherings as the decisions of the court, and after this custom became
obsolete the older lawyers retained with an affectionate interest the
memories of their association with him.

David Davis, afterwards Justice of the United States Supreme Court and
a member of the United States Senate from Illinois, presided over the
Eighth Circuit for many years while Lincoln was in practice, and was
one of his most ardent admirers and devoted friends. It is said that
he would not sit down at the table for dinner or supper until Lincoln
was present. One day, during the trial of a cause, when Lincoln was the
centre of a group in a distant corner of the court-room, exchanging
whispered stories, Judge Davis rapped on the bench and, calling him by
name, exclaimed,--

"Mr. Lincoln, this must stop! There is no use in trying to carry on two
courts; one of them will have to adjourn, and I think yours will have to
be the one;" and as soon as the group scattered, Judge Davis called one
of the group to the bench and asked him to repeat the stories Lincoln
had been telling.

Books of reminiscences written by the men who lived in Illinois in those
days are filled with anecdotes of him, and, even now, it is common in
arguments before the courts in that part of the State to quote what
Lincoln said or did under similar circumstances, and his opinions have
the force of judicial decisions.

In his autobiography, Joseph Jefferson tells an interesting story of the
experience of his father's theatrical company when it was travelling
through Illinois in 1839. He was then a child of ten years. After
playing at Chicago, Quincy, Peoria, and Pekin, the company went to
Springfield, where the presence of the Legislature tempted the elder
Jefferson and his company to remain throughout the season. There was no
theatre, so they built one; it was scarcely completed before a religious
revival turned the influence of the church people against their
performances so effectually that a law was passed by the municipality
imposing a license which was practically prohibitory. In the midst of
their troubles, says Jefferson, a young lawyer called on the managers
and offered, if they would place the matter in his hands, to have the
license revoked, declaring that he only desired to see fair play, and
would accept no fee whether he failed or succeeded. The young lawyer
handled the case with tact, skill, and humor, in his argument tracing
the history of the drama from the time when Thespis acted in a cart to
the stage of to-day. He illustrated his speech with pointed anecdotes
which kept the City Council in a roar of laughter. "This good-humor
prevailed," relates the famous actor, "and the exhibition tax was taken
off." The young lawyer was Lincoln.

Many of the reminiscences relate to Lincoln's skill at
cross-examination, in which, it is asserted, he had no equal at the
Illinois bar. Judge Davis declared that he had the rare gift of
compelling a witness, either friendly or unfriendly, to tell the whole
truth, and seldom resorted to the browbeating tactics so often used by
attorneys. He never irritated a witness, but treated him so kindly and
courteously as to disarm him of any hostile intention.

He never used a word which the dullest juryman could not understand. A
lawyer quoting a legal maxim one day in court, turned to Lincoln and
said, "That is so, is it not, Mr. Lincoln?"

"If that's Latin," Lincoln replied, "you had better call another

Mr. T. W. S. Kidd says that he once heard a lawyer opposed to Lincoln
trying to convince a jury that precedent was superior to law, and that
custom made things legal in all cases. When Lincoln rose to answer, he
told the jury he would argue his case in the same way. Said he, "Old
Squire Bagly, from Menard, came into my office and said, 'Lincoln, I
want your advice as a lawyer. Has a man what's been elected justice of
the peace a right to issue a marriage license?' I told him he had not;
when the old squire threw himself back in his chair very indignantly,
and said, 'Lincoln, I thought you was a lawyer. Now, Bob Thomas and me
had a bet on this thing, and we agreed to let you decide; but if this is
your opinion I don't want it, for I know a thunderin' sight better, for
I have been squire now eight years and have done it all the time.'"

Lincoln always felt and frequently expressed a deep sense of gratitude
to Judge Stephen T. Logan, his second partner, with whom he became
associated in 1841. Judge Logan was the recognized head of his
profession in the central part of the State, a man of high ideals,
noble character, and excellent professional habits. Such example
and instruction were of the greatest service in forming Lincoln's
professional habits, because he was naturally careless in his methods,
and at that period of his life was inclined to depend upon his wits
rather than his knowledge and to indulge in emotional bursts of oratory
rather than simple, convincing logic. He attributed his superior faculty
in presenting a case to Judge Logan's instructions. Nor was he the only
man who owed much of his success in life to this great preceptor. Four
of Judge Logan's law students found their way to the United States
Senate and three were Governors of States.

When Lincoln's experience in Congress had extended his reputation,
broadened his ideas, and given him a better knowledge of men and things,
his practical value as a partner was recognized by the members of one
of the most prominent law firms in Chicago, who invited him to join
them; but he declined on the ground that his family ties as well as his
professional connections were in Springfield, and he feared that his
health would not endure the close confinement of a city office.

Among Lincoln's manuscripts after his death were found a few pages of
notes evidently intended or, perhaps, used at some time for a lecture to
law students, and which express in a very clear manner his opinions as
to the ethics of practice. His words should be printed upon card-board
and hung in every law office in the land.

"... Extemporaneous speaking 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 litigation. 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. Never stir up
litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this.
Who can be more nearly a fiend than he who habitually overhauls the
register of deeds in search of defects in titles, whereon to stir up
strife and put money in his pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused
into the profession which should drive such men out of it.... There is
a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. I say
vague because, when we consider to what extent confidence and honors
are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the people, it appears
improbable that their impression of dishonesty is very distinct and
vivid. Yet the impression is common,--almost universal. 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."

Lincoln and McClellan first met three or four years before the war,
when the latter was Vice-President and Chief Engineer of the Illinois
Central Railroad and the former was attorney for that company. General
McClellan, in his autobiography, gives an account of his relations with
Lincoln at that time, but they were never intimate.

In 1859, when Lincoln appeared for the Illinois Central Railroad in
a case which it did not wish to try at that term, he remarked to the

"We are not ready for trial."

"Why is not the company ready to go to trial?" remarked Judge Davis.

"We are embarrassed by the absence of Captain McClellan," was Lincoln's

"Who is Captain McClellan and why is he not here?" asked Judge Davis.

"All I know," said Mr. Lincoln, "is that he is the engineer of the
railroad, and why he is not here deponent saith not."

It has been frequently said that General McClellan refused to pay
Lincoln a fee charged for trying a case for the Illinois Central
Railroad, but it is not true. At the time referred to (1855) Captain
McClellan was in the regular army and a military attaché in Europe
during the Crimean War. It was, however, the only time that Lincoln sued
for a fee, and the circumstances were as follows. By its charter the
Illinois Central Railroad was exempt from taxation on condition that it
pay into the State treasury seven per cent. of its gross earnings. The
officials of McLean County contended that the Legislature of the State
had no authority to exempt or remit county taxes, and brought a suit
against the road to compel payment. Lincoln defended the company, won
the case, and presented a bill for two thousand dollars. An official
of the railroad, whose name has been forgotten, declined payment on
the ground that it was as much as a first-class lawyer would charge.
Lincoln was so indignant that he withdrew the original bill of charges,
consulted professional friends, and later submitted another for five
thousand dollars with a memorandum attached, signed by six of the most
prominent lawyers in the State, giving as their opinion that the fee was
not unreasonable. As the company still refused to pay, Lincoln sued and
recovered the full amount.

Lincoln's theory regarding fees for professional services is expressed
in the notes of the law lecture previously referred to, and was as

"The matter of fees is important, far beyond the mere question of bread
and butter involved. Properly attended to, fuller justice is done to
both lawyer and client. An exorbitant fee should never be claimed. As
a general rule, never take your whole fee in advance, 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 was still in prospect for you as well as for your client. And
when you lack interest in the case the job will very likely lack skill
and diligence in the performance. Settle the amount of fee and take a
note in advance. Then you will feel that you are working for something,
and you are sure to do your work faithfully and well. Never sell a fee
note,--at least not before the consideration service is performed. It
leads to negligence and dishonesty,--negligence by losing interest in
the case, and dishonesty in refusing to refund when you have allowed the
consideration to fail."

If a client was poor he charged him accordingly, and if he was unable to
pay asked nothing for his services. It was one of his theories that a
lawyer, like a minister of the Gospel or a physician, was in duty bound
to render service whenever called upon, regardless of the prospects
of compensation, and in several cases he offered his services without
compensation to people who had suffered injustice and were unable to
pay. As a rule, his fees were less than those of other lawyers of his
circuit. Justice Davis once remonstrated with him, and insisted that he
was doing a grave injustice to his associates at the bar by charging so
little for his services. From 1850 to 1860 his income varied from two
to three thousand dollars, and even when he was recognized as one of
the ablest lawyers of the State his fee-book frequently shows charges
of three dollars, five dollars, and one dollar for advice, although he
never went into court for less than ten dollars. During that period
he was at the height of his power and popularity, and lawyers of less
standing and talent charged several times those amounts. But avarice
was the least of his faults.

While he was President a certain Senator was charged with an attempt
to swindle the government out of some millions. Discussing the scandal
one day with some friends, he remarked that he could not understand why
men should be so eager after wealth. "Wealth," said he, "is simply a
superfluity of what we don't need."

An examination of the dockets of the Illinois Supreme Court shows that
during a period of twenty years, beginning with 1840 and ending with his
election to the Presidency, he had nearly one hundred cases before that
court, which is an unusual record and has been surpassed by few lawyers
in the history of the State and by none of his contemporaries. It was
declared, in an oration delivered by one of his associates, that "In his
career as a lawyer he traversed a wide range of territory, attended many
courts and had a variety of cases, and in all his conflicts at the bar
he was successful in every case where he ought to have been."

When he went to Washington to become President his debts were entirely
paid and he was worth about ten thousand dollars in real estate and
other property.

[Illustration: Copyright, 1900, by McClure, Phillips & Co.


From a negative taken for M. C. Tuttle, of St. Paul, Minnesota, for
local use in the presidential campaign]

A singular story is told of a case in which a good many prominent men
were involved besides Lincoln. Abraham Brokaw, of Bloomington, loaned
five hundred dollars to one of his neighbors and took a note, which
remained unpaid. Action was brought, the sheriff levied on the property
of the debtor and collected the entire amount, but neglected to turn the
proceeds over. Brokaw employed Stephen A. Douglas, who collected the
amount from the bondsman of the sheriff, but returned to his seat in the
Senate at Washington without making a settlement. Like some other great
men, Douglas was very careless about money matters, and, after appealing
to him again and again, Brokaw employed David Davis to bring suit
against the Senator. Being an intimate friend and fellow-Democrat,
Davis disliked to appear in the case, and by his advice Brokaw engaged
the services of Lincoln. The latter wrote to Douglas at Washington
that he had a claim against him for collection and must insist upon
prompt payment. Douglas became very indignant and reproached Brokaw for
placing such a political weapon in the hands of an abolitionist. Brokaw
sent Douglas's letter to Lincoln, and the latter employed "Long John"
Wentworth, then a Democratic member of Congress from Chicago, as an
associate in the case. Wentworth saw Douglas, persuaded him to pay the
money, and forwarded five hundred dollars to Lincoln, who, in turn, paid
it to Brokaw and sent him a bill of three dollars and fifty cents for
professional services.

Lincoln's greatest legal triumph was the acquittal of an old neighbor
named Duff Armstrong, who was charged with murder, and several witnesses
testified that they saw the accused commit the deed one night about
eleven o'clock. Lincoln attempted no cross-examination, except to
persuade them to reiterate their statements and to explain that they
were able to see the act distinctly because of the bright moonlight.
By several of the prosecuting witnesses he proved the exact position
and size of the moon at the time of the murder. The prosecution there
rested, and Lincoln, addressing the court and the jury, announced that
he had no defence to submit except an almanac, which would show that
there was no moon on that night. The State's attorney was paralyzed, but
the court admitted the almanac as competent testimony, and every witness
was completely impeached and convicted of perjury. The verdict was not

One of the most important cases in which Lincoln was ever engaged
involved the ownership of a patent for the reaping machines manufactured
by Cyrus H. McCormick, of Chicago, who sued John Manny, of Rockford,
for infringement. McCormick was represented by E. N. Dickerson and
Reverdy Johnson. Manny was represented by Edwin M. Stanton, who
was afterwards Lincoln's Secretary of War; Peter H. Watson, who
was afterwards Assistant Secretary of War; and George Harding, of
Philadelphia. The case was tried in Cincinnati, and, to his intense
disappointment and chagrin, Lincoln was not allowed to make an argument
he had prepared because the court would not permit four arguments on
one side and only two on the other. Lincoln was extremely anxious to
meet in debate Reverdy Johnson, of Baltimore, who was then regarded by
many as the leader of the American bar; but he accepted the situation
gracefully though regretfully, watched the case closely as it proceeded,
took careful notes which he furnished Mr. Harding, and gave the latter
the benefit of his written argument, but requested him not to show it to
Mr. Stanton. There is no doubt that he felt that Mr. Stanton had been
guilty of professional discourtesy in refusing to insist that the court
hear Lincoln as well as himself, believing that this concession would
have been granted if the demand had been pressed, or if Mr. Stanton had
proposed that the time allowed for argument be divided. Mr. Stanton was
not unaware of Lincoln's wishes, for they were fully explained to him by
Mr. Harding, who urged him to give Lincoln an opportunity to speak, but,
being the senior counsel in the case, he assigned Mr. Harding, who was a
patent expert, to submit the technical side of the case, and assumed the
entire responsibility of making the legal argument himself.

This incident is particularly interesting in connection with the future
relations between the two men, and it is certain that Lincoln was
profoundly impressed with Mr. Stanton's ability in the presentation of
his case. The matter was never alluded to by either during their long
and intimate association at Washington. A young lawyer from Rockford who
had studied with Lincoln was in Cincinnati at the time and attended the
trial. When the court adjourned after Stanton's argument they walked
together to their hotel. Mr. Emerson says that Lincoln seemed dejected,
and, turning to him suddenly, exclaimed in an impulsive manner,--

"Emerson, I am going home to study law."

"'Why,' I exclaimed, 'Mr. Lincoln, you stand at the head of the bar in
Illinois now! What are you talking about?'

"'Ah, yes,' he said, 'I do occupy a good position there, and I think
I can get along with the way things are done there now. But these
college-trained men, who have devoted their whole lives to study, are
coming West, don't you see? And they study their cases as we never
do. They have got as far as Cincinnati now. They will soon be in
Illinois.' Another long pause; then stopping and turning towards me, his
countenance suddenly assuming that look of strong determination which
those who knew him best sometimes saw upon his face, he exclaimed, 'I am
going home to study law! I am as good as any of them, and when they get
out to Illinois I will be ready for them.'"

While Mr. Lincoln was not a sensitive man in the ordinary sense of that
term, he felt keenly his own deficiencies in education; nor did he lose
this feeling when his ability as a statesman was recognized by the
entire universe and he held the destiny of a nation in his grasp. Once,
when a famous lawyer called at the White House and referred courteously
to his eminent position at the bar, he replied, "Oh, I am only a
mast-fed lawyer," referring to his limited education. "Mast" is a kind
of food composed of acorns, grass, and similar natural substances which
was commonly given to cattle and hogs in Indiana and other frontier
States when he was a boy.

Conscious of his deficiencies, he never ceased to be a student. Until
the very day of his death he was eager to acquire knowledge, and no new
subject was ever presented to him without exciting his inquisitiveness
and determination to learn all there was to know about it. Of this
characteristic he once remarked to a friend,--

"In the course of my law reading I constantly came upon the word
demonstrate--I thought at first that I understood its meaning, but soon
became satisfied that I did not. I consulted Webster's Dictionary. That
told of certain proof, 'proof beyond the probability of doubt;' but I
could form no sort of idea what sort of proof that was.

"I consulted all the dictionaries and books of reference I could find,
but with no better results. You might as well have defined blue to a
blind man. At last I said, 'Lincoln, you can never make a lawyer if you
do not understand what demonstrate means;' and I left my situation in
Springfield, went home to my father's house, and stayed there until I
could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then
found out what demonstrate meant, and went back to my law studies."

He met every new question with the same disposition, and nobody
ever knew better how to dig for the root of a subject than he. When
his children began to go to school, he used to study with them, and
frequently referred to the many interesting points of information and
the valuable knowledge he acquired in that way. The lawyers who were
associated with him upon the circuit relate how often he was accustomed
to pull a book from his pocket whenever he had an idle moment, and it
was quite as frequently a treatise on astronomy or engineering or a
medical lecture as a collection of poems or speeches.

But, with all his modesty and diffidence, he never hesitated to meet
with confidence the most formidable opponent at the bar or on the stump,
and frequently, when reading accounts of litigation in which famous
lawyers were engaged, he would express a wish that he might some time
"tackle" them in a court-room. He once said that in all his practice at
the bar he had never been surprised by the strength of the testimony or
the arguments of his adversary, and usually found them weaker than he
feared. This was due to a habit he acquired early in his practice of
studying the opposite side of every disputed question in every law case
and every political issue quite as carefully as his own side. When he
had an important case on hand he was accustomed to withdraw himself into
a room where he would not be disturbed, or, what he liked better, to
get out into the fields or the woods around Springfield where there was
nothing to distract his thoughts, in order to "argue it out in my own
mind," as he put it; and when he returned to his house or his office he
would usually have a clear conception of his case and have formed his
plan of action.

He argued great causes in which principles were involved with all the
zeal and earnestness that a righteous soul could feel. Trifling causes
he dismissed with the ridicule in which he was unsurpassed, and his
associates relate many incidents when a verdict was rendered in a gale
of laughter because of the droll tactics used by Lincoln. He never
depended upon technicalities or the tricks of the profession. He never
attempted to throw obstacles in the way of justice, or to gain an
unfair advantage of his adversaries, but was capable of executing legal
manooeuvres with as much skill as any of his rivals. He adapted himself
to circumstances with remarkable ease, and his thorough knowledge of
human nature enabled him to excite the interest and sympathy of a jury
by getting very close to their hearts. He argued much from analogy; he
used old-fashioned words and homely phrases which were familiar to the
jurymen he desired to impress, and illustrated his points by stories,
maxims, and figures often droll and sometimes vulgar, because he knew
that he could make it plainer to them in that way and that they would
better understand the force and bearing of his arguments. He relied more
upon this method of convincing a jury than upon exhibitions of learning
or flights of eloquence, and his acquaintance with human nature was even
more intimate than his knowledge of the law.

Few of his speeches at the bar have been preserved, but his
contemporaries have left us many interesting reminiscences of his
originality and power. His ungainly form and awkward gesticulations
enhanced the force of his arguments and attracted the attention and
sympathy of a country jury more than the most graceful manners and
elegant rhetoric could have done. It was always his rule, in presenting
a case, to cut out all of the "dead wood" and get down to "hard pan,"
as he called it, as soon as possible. In making such concessions he
would establish a position of fairness and honesty, and often disarmed
his opponent by leaving the impression that he had accidentally "given
away his case." Then he would rely upon his remarkable habit of order
and command of logic to bring his evidence forward in a clear and strong
light, keeping unnecessary details away from the attention of the
jury and pressing only the essential points with which he expected to
convince them. Sometimes, when his opponent seemed to have captured a
verdict, he would abandon his serious argument and begin to tell stories
one after another with more or less application, until by such diversion
he had effaced from the minds of the jury every impression that the
other side had made.

Justice Lawrence Weldon, of the United States Court of Claims, in his
reminiscences says, "One of the most interesting incidents in my early
acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln was a lawsuit in which Mr. Lincoln was
counsel for the plaintiff and I was counsel for the defendant. Even
then, in a trial that was the sensation of an obscure village on the
prairies, Mr. Lincoln showed that supreme sense of justice to God and
his fellow-men.

"It was a family quarrel between two brothers-in-law, Jack Dungee and
Joe Spencer. Dungee was a Portuguese, extremely dark-complexioned, but
not a bad-looking fellow; and after a time he married Spencer's sister,
with the approval of Spencer's family. I don't remember the origin of
the quarrel, but it became bitter; and the last straw was laid on when
Spencer called Dungee a 'nigger' and followed it up, they say, by adding
'a nigger married to a white woman.' The statute of Illinois made it
a crime for a negro to marry a white woman, and, because of that, the
words were slanderous. Dungee, through Mr. Lincoln, brought the suit for
slander. Judge David Davis was on the bench, and the suit was brought in
the De Witt Circuit Court. When the case came up, Mr. Moore and myself
appeared for the defence and demurred to the declaration, which, to
the annoyance of Mr. Lincoln, the court sustained. Whatever interest
Mr. Lincoln took in the case before that time, his professional pride
was aroused by the fact that the court had decided that his papers
were deficient. Looking across the trial table at Moore and myself and
shaking his long, bony finger, he said, 'Now, by jing, I will beat you

"At the next term of the court Mr. Lincoln appeared with his papers
amended, and fully determined to make good his promise to 'beat the
boys!' and we thought his chances pretty good to do it, too. We knew our
man was a fool not to have settled it, but still we were bound to defend
and clear him if we could.

"In the argument of the case on the testimony Mr. Lincoln made a most
powerful and remarkable speech, abounding in wit, logic, and eloquence
of the highest order. His thoughts were clothed in the simplest garb of
expression and in words understood by every juror in the box. After
the instructions were given by the court the jury retired, and in a few
moments returned with a judgment for the plaintiff, in a sum which was a
large amount for those days.

"Mr. Lincoln's advice to his client was that Dungee agree to remit
the whole judgment, by Spencer paying the costs of the suit and Mr.
Lincoln's fee. Mr. Lincoln then proposed to leave the amount of his
fee to Moore and myself. We protested against this, and insisted that
Mr. Lincoln should fix the amount of his own fee. After a few moments'
thought he said, 'Well, gentlemen, don't you think I have honestly
earned twenty-five dollars?' We were astonished, and had he said one
hundred dollars it would have been what we expected. The judgment was
a large one for those days; he had attended the case at two terms of
court, had been engaged for two days in a hotly contested suit, and his
client's adversary was going to pay the bill. The simplicity of Mr.
Lincoln's character in money matters is well illustrated by the fact
that for all this he charged twenty-five dollars."

Justice David Davis, of the Supreme Court of the United States, said,
"In all the elements that constitute the great lawyer he had few equals.
He was great both at _nisi prius_ and before an appellate tribunal. He
seized the strong points of a cause and presented them with clearness
and great compactness. His mind was logical and direct, and he did
not indulge in extraneous discussion. Generalities and platitudes had
no charms for him. An unfailing vein of humor never deserted him; and
he was able to claim the attention of court and jury, when the cause
was the most uninteresting, by the appropriateness of his anecdotes.
His power of comparison was large, and he rarely failed in a legal
discussion to use that mode of reasoning. The framework of his mental
and moral being was honesty, and a wrong cause was poorly defended by
him. He hated wrong and oppression everywhere, and many a man whose
fraudulent conduct was undergoing review in a court of justice has
writhed under his terrific indignation and rebukes. The people where
he practised law were not rich, and his charges were always small.
When he was elected President, I question whether there was a lawyer
in the circuit, who had been at the bar so long a time, whose means
were not larger. It did not seem to be one of the purposes of his life
to accumulate a fortune. In fact, outside of his profession, he had no
knowledge of the way to make money, and he never even attempted it."

Lincoln was associated at the Springfield bar with many famous men,
and there was a keen rivalry among them. Stephen A. Douglas, David
Davis, James Shields, Edward D. Baker, John M. Palmer, Lyman Trumbull,
Oliver H. Browning, Shelby M. Cullom, and others afterwards sat in the
United States Senate and some of them held positions in the Cabinets
of Presidents. Others were afterwards Governors of States and members
of the House of Representatives; others led armies during the war with
Mexico and the war between the States. One of the strongest groups of
men that ever gathered at the capital of a State was to be found in
Springfield in those days, and Lincoln was their equal in ability and
learning and the superior of many of them in the qualities that make
a statesman. They recognized him as their superior on many occasions,
and whether or not he was the ablest lawyer on the circuit, there was
never any doubt that he was the most popular. He was always a great
favorite with the younger members of the bar because of his sympathy
and good-nature. He never used the arts of a demagogue; he was never a
toady; he was always ready to do an act of kindness; he was generous
with his mind and with his purse; although he never asked for help, was
always ready to give it; and while he received everybody's confidence,
he rarely gave his own in return. Whatever his cares and anxieties may
have been, he never inflicted them upon others; he never wounded by his
wit; his humor was never harsh or rude; he endeavored to lighten the
labors and the cares of others, and beneath his awkward manner was a
gentle refinement and an amiable disposition.

For twenty-five years he practised at the Springfield bar. He was not
a great lawyer according to the standard of his profession, but the
testimony of his associates is that he was a good one, enjoying the
confidence of the judiciary, the bar, and the public to a remarkable
degree. He was conspicuous for several honorable traits, and, above
all, for that sense of moral responsibility that can always distinguish
between duty to a client and duty to society and the truth. On the
wrong side of a case he was always weak, and, realizing this, he often
persuaded his clients to give up litigation rather than compel him to
argue against truth and justice.

Leonard Swett, of Chicago, for years an intimate associate, and himself
one of the most famous of American lawyers, says that, "sometimes, after
Lincoln entered upon a criminal case, the conviction that his client was
guilty would affect him with a sort of panic. On one occasion he turned
suddenly to his associate and said, 'Swett, the man is guilty; you
defend him, I can't,' and so gave up his share of a large fee.

"At another time, when he was engaged with Judge S. C. Parks in
defending a man accused of larceny, he said, 'If you can say anything
for the man, do it, I can't; if I attempt it, the jury will see I think
he is guilty, and convict him.'

"Once he was prosecuting a civil suit, in the course of which evidence
was introduced showing that his client was attempting a fraud. Lincoln
rose and went to his hotel in deep disgust. The judge sent for him; he
refused to come. 'Tell the judge,' he said, 'my hands are dirty; I came
over to wash them.' We are aware that these stories detract something
from the character of the lawyer; but this inflexible, inconvenient, and
fastidious morality was to be of vast service afterwards to his country
and to the world. The fact is that, with all his stories and jests, his
frank companionable humor, his gift of easy accessibility and welcome,
he was a man of grave and serious temper and of unusual innate dignity
and reserve. He had few or no special intimates, and there was a line
beyond which no one ever thought of passing."

Mr. Chauncey M. Depew said, "He told me once that, in his judgment,
one of the two best things he ever originated was this. He was trying
a cause in Illinois where he appeared for a prisoner charged with
aggravated assault and battery. The complainant had told a horrible
story of the attack, which his appearance fully justified, when
the district attorney handed the witness over to Mr. Lincoln for
cross-examination. Mr. Lincoln said he had no testimony, and unless
he could break down the complainant's story he saw no way out. He had
come to the conclusion that the witness was a bumptious man, who rather
prided himself upon his smartness in repartee, and so, after looking at
him for some minutes, he inquired, 'Well, my friend, what ground did you
and my client here fight over?' The fellow answered, 'About six acres.'
'Well,' said Mr. Lincoln,'don't you think this is an almighty small crop
of fight to gather from such a big piece of ground?' The jury laughed,
the court and district attorney and complainant all joined in, and the
case was laughed out of court."



The fame of Abraham Lincoln as an orator was made secure by his debate
with Douglas in 1858, his political speech at Cooper Institute in
February, 1860, his oration at the dedication of the Soldiers' Cemetery
at Gettysburg in 1863, and his second inaugural address in March, 1865.
Neither of these four distinct examples of argument and eloquence has
ever been surpassed in their separate fields. That was the judgment of
his contemporaries, and it is confirmed by the succeeding generation,
not only of his own countrymen, but of competent critics throughout the
English-speaking world. His style commanded the highest praise from the
French Academy. It was commended as a model for the imitation of princes.

His debate with Douglas was a gladiatorial combat between oratorical
Titans. It had no precedent and has not been repeated. His speech
at Cooper Institute, as an example of political reasoning, made him
pre-eminent upon what the Americans call the "stump." His historical
analysis, concise statement, faultless logic, and irresistible
conclusions made it a model which has been studied and imitated by
campaign speakers ever since its delivery. The brief oration at
Gettysburg, covering only thirty lines of print, ranks with the noblest
utterances of human lips. No orator of ancient or modern times produced
purer rhetoric, more beautiful sentiment, or elegant diction.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Many passages in his letters, messages, and
speeches ... are destined to wide fame. What pregnant definitions,
what unerring common sense, what foresight, and on great occasions
what lofty and, more than national, what human tones. His brief speech
at Gettysburg will not easily be surpassed by words on any recorded

The occasion was the dedication of the battle-field as a soldiers'
cemetery, November 19, 1863. Edward Everett delivered a masterly
oration, and President Lincoln, being present, was introduced for a few
remarks. With profound earnestness and solemnity he spoke five minutes
to a breathless audience. His remarks were so brief that it is possible
and appropriate to include them here. They could not be considered out
of place in any volume of literature on any subject. They cannot be
printed or read too often:

"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 battle-field 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."

The next day Mr. Everett, who was considered one of the most
accomplished of American orators, sent Lincoln a note in which he said,--

"Permit me to express my great admiration of the thoughts expressed
by you with such eloquence, simplicity, and appropriateness at the
consecration of the cemetery. I should be glad if I could flatter myself
that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as
you did in two minutes."

It has always been a popular impression that Lincoln's speech was
written upon the cars, _en route_ to Gettysburg from Washington on
the morning of the ceremonies, but General Fry, of the army, who was
detailed from the War Department as his escort on that occasion and was
with him every moment, says that he has no recollection of seeing him
writing or even reading a manuscript, nor was there any opportunity
during the journey for him to do so. Colonel Hay, his private secretary,
says that he wrote out a brief speech at the White House before leaving
Washington, and, as usual on such occasions, committed it to memory; but
the inspiration of the scene led him to make material changes, and the
version given here, copied from Nicolay and Hay's Biography, was written
out by the President himself after his return. While it may not be
exact, it is nearly accurate.

The _London Times_ pronounced Lincoln's second inaugural address to be
the most sublime state paper of the century. Equally competent critics
have called it a masterpiece of political literature. The following
extract will show its style and sentiment:

"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
offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man
by whom the offence cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery
is one of those offences 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 offence 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."

General Sherman described it accurately when he said, "I have seen and
heard many of the famous orators of the century, but Lincoln's speeches
surpassed them all. They have never been equalled. It was not his
scholarship; it was not rhetoric; it was not elocution; it was the
unaffected and spontaneous eloquence of the heart. There was nothing of
the mountain-torrent in his manner; it was rather the calm flow of the

Lincoln's own comments upon his inaugural address, like everything he
ever said about himself, are unique. In reply to a complimentary letter
from Thurlow Weed, he wrote, "I expect the latter to wear as well as,
perhaps better than, anything I have produced; but I believe it is not
immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there
has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny
it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the
world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told, and, as whatever
of humiliation there is in it falls most directly on myself, I thought
others might afford for me to tell it."

Messrs. Hay and Nicolay, who were nearer to him and knew him better than
any other men, say, "Nothing would more have amazed Mr. Lincoln than
to hear himself called a man of letters; but this age had produced few
greater writers. Emerson ranks him with Æsop; Montalembert commends his
style as a model for princes. It is true that in his writing the range
of subjects is not great. He was chiefly concerned with the political
problems of the time and the moral considerations involved in them. But
the range of treatment is remarkably wide, running from the wit, the
gay humor, the florid eloquence of his stump speeches to the marvellous
sententiousness and brevity of the address at Gettysburg and the
sustained and lofty grandeur of his second inaugural; while many of his
phrases have already passed into the daily use of mankind."

But he made other speeches, equally admirable, and some of them
unsurpassed by the greatest political or platform orators. Wendell
Phillips, Henry Ward Beecher, Robert G. Ingersoll, James G. Blaine,
Benjamin Harrison, and others who have gained fame for oratory have
each given testimony for the simple yet sublime eloquence of the great
master. Many critics consider Lincoln's Peoria speech of 1854 the ablest
political argument ever delivered, and assert that no master of logic in
the world could have answered it. One of its epigrams has been quoted
thousands of times. "When the white man governs himself," he said,
"that, I acknowledge, is self-government; but when the white man governs
himself and another man besides, that I call despotism."

If Lincoln had been born in old England or in New England, if he had
been educated at a university, if he had spent his childhood and youth
in luxury and under refining influences, he might have been a greater
orator, statesman, and politician than he was, but a nature and a mind
like his required the discipline and conditions which he passed through
to attain their full development. It is an interesting subject of
speculation, concerning other self-taught men as well as Lincoln; but,
as a rule, the most powerful minds and the most influential characters
have been without the training of the schools, and by contact with
gentler and refining influences Lincoln might have acquired polish at
the cost of his rugged greatness, his quaint habits of thought and
odd but effective phrases, the homely illustrations, and the shrewd
faculty of appealing to the simple every-day experience of the people
to convince them of the force of his facts and the soundness of his
reasoning. His logic was always as clear as his candor. He never failed
to state the argument of his adversary as fairly and as forcefully as
his own. His power of analysis was extraordinary. He used the simplest
words in the language, but they strengthened every case he stated,
and no fact, or anecdote, or argument ever lost force or effect from
his style of presentation. It has frequently been asserted--and his
speeches, state papers, and private correspondence are sufficient
proof--that he could state a proposition more clearly and forcibly than
any man of his time; yet his language was that of "the plain people,"
as he used to call them. This faculty was doubtless due to his early
experience among the illiterate classes on the frontier, and certain
errors of grammar and construction which are familiar to all who have
lived among that portion of the population frequently occurred in his
compositions. At one time during his early days as a speaker he adopted
the flamboyant redundancy of style that is still popular in the South
and certain parts of the West, and often used many of the familiar
tricks of emotional orators; but his own common sense and the advice
of Judge Logan, his law partner, soon corrected this fault, and he
studied a simpler style which was much more effective. If he had been
less gifted in language he would have been quite as clear in statement,
quite as persuasive in his presentation of an argument, because he aimed
not to excite admiration, but to be understood. His earnestness was not
intended to excite the emotions, but to appeal to the reasoning powers
of the persons addressed, and his knowledge of human nature taught him
how the mind of the average man worked. At the same time he could reach
the most accomplished scholar and the most thoughtful philosopher. For
example, his letters in explanation of his delay in proclaiming freedom
to the slaves, especially that addressed to Mr. Greeley in 1863, are
masterpieces of clear and forcible writing.

One reason for Lincoln's power over his audiences was his intense
sincerity. He carried his conscience into every discussion, he took no
position that he did not believe was right, and he made no statements
that he did not believe to be fair and true. Another was the sympathy
he excited; when he related a story he laughed all over, and his own
enjoyment was so contagious that the effect was greatly increased.

He once said to Mr. Depew, in reference to some criticisms which had
been made upon his story-telling, "They say I tell a great many stories;
I reckon I do, but I have found in the course of a long experience that
common people"--repeating it--"common people, take them as they run,
are more easily influenced and informed through the medium of a broad
illustration than in any other way, and as to what the hypercritical few
may think I don't care."

His pathos was quite as effective as his humor. His natural tenderness,
his affectionate disposition, his poetic temperament, his sympathy for
the weak and the sorrowful, and his comprehensive love of all that was
good inspired him with a power to touch the hearts of the people as no
other man in this country has ever been able to do. James H. McVicker,
the famous actor, once told the author that the most marvellous
exhibition of elocution he ever witnessed was Lincoln's recitation of
the Lord's Prayer, and said that Lincoln told him at the time that it
was the sublimest composition in the English language.

Lincoln had the advantage of a photographic memory which could retain
almost any passage in literature, and he was able to repeat long
passages from Shakespeare and other plays and poems which pleased him.
It was only necessary for him to read them over once or twice and they
remained in his memory forever. He developed this faculty early in life,
and it was the greatest enjoyment allowed the humble people among whom
he lived to hear him recite passages from the books he had read and
declaim selections from "The Kentucky Preceptor," which was a standard
text-book in those days. He could repeat with effect all the poems and
speeches in other school-readers, and his talent at mimicry furnished
amusement for the neighborhood. The traditions of Gentryville tell us
that the neighbors seldom gathered for a "raising," or a "quilting,"
or a "paring," or a "husking-bee" without hearing Abe Lincoln "take
off" the itinerant preachers and politicians whose peculiarities had
attracted his attention and appealed to his sense of humor. He attended
all the trials in the neighborhood, and frequently walked fifteen miles
to the town of Boonevile when court was in session there. His faculty
was so well known in that part of the State that the lawyers and others
who gathered on such occasions would invariably induce him to make a
stump speech or imitate some backwoods orator. His essays and rhymes
were much admired, and an itinerant Baptist preacher was so impressed
with one of his speeches on temperance that he sent it to friends in
Ohio, where it was published in a newspaper; the first of his writings
to appear in print. Another essay on "National Politics," written when
he was nineteen, gave him great local reputation for literary talent.
One of the lawyers who practised in that circuit and was considered a
very high authority declared that "the world couldn't beat it."

It is also related that he frequently interrupted harvesting, threshing,
and other business events which drew the neighbors together by
delivering political speeches, burlesquing local orators and preachers,
and repeating doggerels of his own composition that referred to local
affairs. His humor often exceeded his discretion, and we are told of
coarse satires and rhymes which excited the amusement and admiration of
a community, but did him no credit. Sometimes these ebullitions of wit
involved him in trouble, particularly on two occasions when he wrote
some verses about the deformed nose of his employer, of which the owner
was very sensitive.

Lincoln never attempted serious oratory until he went to New Salem,
where he discovered Shakespeare and Burns, whose writings had a
powerful influence upon his literary style and taste. These eminent
authorities were introduced to him by a worthless loafer and fisherman
named Jack Kelso, who was too lazy to work, but had a love of learning
and literature and an unusually good education for his time and
surroundings. Mutual tastes brought the two together, and Lincoln would
sit evening after evening on the porch of Offutt's store or lie all
day Sunday on the ground under the shade of a tree listening to Kelso
discourse upon his favorite authors and repeat over and over the poems
of Burns and fine passages from Shakespeare which he had committed to
memory long before. There is no doubt that Burns, Shakespeare, and Kelso
seriously interfered with the grocery business and contributed to the
financial disaster which terminated Lincoln's first and only commercial
enterprise. It was a long time before he obtained copies of his favorite
poets, but no books were prized more highly by any man.

Lincoln's first experience in debate was gained while he was a clerk in
Offutt's store and attended the meetings of a debating club, which were
held at different places in the neighborhood and sometimes so far away
that he was compelled to walk seven or eight miles for the privilege.
He used to call it "practising polemics." Occasionally the club met in
a vacant store at New Salem, and Lincoln's first serious speech was
delivered on one of those occasions.

His first political speech was delivered at Pappsville, where a
crowd had been attracted by an auction sale. He was then beginning
his first campaign for the Legislature, and although his remarks are
not remembered, an incident of the occasion remains one of the most
precious heritages of that neighborhood. While he was speaking, one of
his friends became involved in a fight on the edge of the audience,
and when the orator saw that he was getting the worst of it, Lincoln
suspended his remarks, jumped from the dry-goods box which served as
his platform, seized the assailant of his friend by the collar and the
seat of his trousers, threw him ten or twelve feet, resumed his place,
and finished his argument.

In the reminiscences of Joshua Speed, who was perhaps the most intimate
friend Lincoln ever knew, is an account of a great mass-meeting at
Springfield at which Lincoln made a speech that produced a lasting
impression and "used up" George Forquer, a prominent lawyer and
politician, so completely that he was practically driven out of the
campaign. Forquer had been a Whig, but changed his politics, and was
rewarded by the Democrats with an appointment as Register of the United
States Land Office. He owned and occupied one of the finest houses in
Springfield and attached to its chimney the only lightning-rod in that
part of the State. Forquer had made a long address at the meeting and
Lincoln had been assigned to the duty of answering him. Forquer alluded
to this arrangement in a contemptuous manner, and spoke slightingly of
Lincoln's youth and inexperience. When Lincoln came to reply he admitted
his youth and inexperience, which, he added, were faults that would be
corrected by time, and then said,--

"I am not so young in years as I am in the tricks and trade of the
politician; but whether I live long or die young, I would rather die
now than change my politics for an office worth three thousand dollars
a year, and have to erect a lightning-rod over my house to protect my
conscience from an offended God."

The people of Springfield appreciated this hit so keenly and quoted
it so freely that Forquer was compelled to retire from the canvass to
escape ridicule.

From this time on Lincoln was always on the stump whenever there was a
political contest in Central Illinois, and was recognized as one of the
ablest, as he was one of the most popular and effective, campaigners.
His speeches began to show maturer intellect, a more careful study and
expanding power, and his hold upon his friends and his influence in his
party and with the public at large were increasing with every political
campaign. As early as 1837, when he was a candidate for Speaker of the
Lower House of the Legislature, he had acquired considerable reputation.
In the fall of that year, with a few other young men of Springfield,
he organized a lyceum for mutual improvement, and his ability was
recognized when he was the first of its members to be invited to make a
public address, which was carefully prepared and delivered in January,
1838. The subject was "The Perpetuation of our Political Institutions,"
and it created such an impression that it was published in full in the
_Sangamon Journal_, February 3, 1838. Few men of twenty-nine years,
with the advantage of a university education and a complete library
for reference, could produce so profound and statesmanlike a paper,
and his philosophical analysis of the principles of the Declaration of
Independence and his conception of the political duty of the citizen
were remarkable for their truth and force.

Lincoln had acquired such great fame as a speaker that in 1840 he was
named upon the Harrison electoral ticket, with the stipulation that
he should canvass the State. He was then only thirty-one years old,
but was regarded as the ablest of the Whig stumpers in Illinois. In
the Clay campaign of 1844, in the Taylor campaign of 1848, and in the
Scott campaign of 1852 he devoted almost his entire time to political
work, for which he received no compensation. Ambitious politicians and
loyal party men were expected to contribute their services free and pay
their own expenses in those days, and while Lincoln's pocket suffered,
his fame and popularity spread, and he had the satisfaction of knowing
that in all the State no man possessed the confidence of the public so
completely as he and none was listened to with more attention or greater
respect. In 1856, during the Frémont campaign, he was recognized as the
foremost leader on the Republican side, and had a narrow escape from
being nominated for Vice-President.

While in Congress he made three set speeches in the Hall of
Representatives, all carefully prepared and written out. The first was
an elaborate defence of Whig doctrines and an historical discussion
of the Mexican War, the next was on the general subject of internal
improvement, and the third was a humorous and satirical criticism of
General Cass, the Democratic candidate for President. All of these
speeches were printed in pamphlet form for home circulation and were not
intended to influence the action of the House. His first participation
in debate was, however, a great success. Soon after the Presidential
campaign of 1848 opened, Representative Iverson, of Georgia, accused the
Whigs of "having taken shelter under the military coat-tails of General
Taylor," their Presidential candidate. This seemed to touch Lincoln's
sense of humor, and he made a brief reply, taking "Military Coat-Tails"
as his text. Ben Perley Poore, the famous newspaper correspondent, who
was then in his prime, describes the scene as follows:

"He had written the heads of what he intended to say on a few pages of
foolscap paper, which he placed on a friend's desk, bordering on an
alley-way, which he had obtained permission to speak from. At first
he followed his notes; but, as he warmed up, he left his desk and his
notes, to stride down the alley towards the Speaker's chair, holding
his left hand behind him so that he could now and then shake the tails
of his own rusty, black broadcloth dress-coat, while he earnestly
gesticulated with his long right arm, shaking the bony index-finger at
the Democrats on the other side of the chamber. Occasionally, as he
would complete a sentence amid shouts of laughter, he would return up
the alley to his desk, consult his notes, take a sip of water, and start
off again."

The _Baltimore American_ called it "the crack speech of the day," and
said of Lincoln: "He is a very able, acute, uncouth, honest, upright
man and a tremendous wag withal.... Mr. Lincoln's manner was so
good-natured, and his style so peculiar, that he kept the House in a
continuous roar of merriment for the last half-hour of his speech. He
would commence a point in his speech far up one of the aisles, and keep
on talking, gesticulating, and walking until he would find himself, at
the end of a paragraph, down in the centre of the area in front of the
clerk's desk. He would then go back and take another head, and work down
again. And so on, through his capital speech."

Referring to another brief speech made in defence of his Committee on
Post Roads, Lincoln wrote a friend at home, "As to speech-making, by
way of getting the hand of the House, I made a little speech two or
three days ago on a post-office question of no general interest. 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. I expect to make
one within a week or two in which I hope to succeed well enough to wish
you to see it."

The speech he was then preparing was delivered four days later. It was
his first formal appearance in Congress, and, according to custom, he
finished the occasion by a series of resolutions referring to President
Polk's declaration that the war of 1848 had been begun by Mexico's
"invading our territory and shedding the blood of our citizens on our
own soil," and calling upon him to give the House specific information
as to the invasion and bloodshed. These resolutions were frequently
referred to afterwards in his political contests, and were relied upon
to sustain a charge of lack of patriotism during the Mexican War made by
Mr. Douglas against their author.

Like all young members of the House of Representatives, Lincoln was
compelled to remain in the background most of the time; but he learned
a great deal in his brief experience, and created such an impression
by his speeches that upon the adjournment he was invited to enter the
Presidential campaign of 1848 in New England, making his first speech
at Worcester, where the meeting was presided over by ex-Governor Levi
Lincoln, who was also a descendant of Samuel Lincoln, of Hingham. The
New England newspapers and people gave him many compliments and in
subsequent campaigns repeated their invitations.

[Illustration: Copyright, 1895 by S. S. McClure Co.


From a photograph owned by Hon. William J. Franklin, Macomb, Illinois,
taken in 1866 from an ambrotype made in 1858 at Macomb. By special

The first collision between Lincoln and Douglas occurred during the
Harrison Presidential campaign of 1840, and from that time they were
regarded as active rivals. These two remarkable men became acquainted
in 1834 during Lincoln's first session in the Legislature at Vandalia,
then the capital of Illinois. Mr. Douglas was four years younger and
equally poor. In his youth he had been apprenticed to a cabinet-maker
in Vermont, had studied law under very much the same difficulties as
Lincoln, was admitted to the bar as soon as he was twenty-one, and came
to Springfield, with no acquaintances and only thirty-seven cents in his
pocket, to contest for the office of State attorney with John J. Hardin,
one of the most prominent and successful lawyers of the State. By the
use of tactics peculiar to his life-long habits as a politician, he
secured the appointment, made a successful prosecutor, and in 1836 was
elected to the Legislature, and occupied a position on the Democratic
side of that body similar to that occupied by Lincoln on the Whig side.
In 1837 he secured from President Van Buren the appointment of Register
of the Public Land Office, and made Springfield his home. In the fall
of the same year he was nominated to Congress against John T. Stuart,
Lincoln's law partner and friend, and the campaign which followed was
one of the most remarkable in the history of the State, with Lincoln,
as usual, the conspicuous figure upon the Whig stump. When the vote
was counted, Stuart received a majority of only fourteen out of a total
of thirty-six thousand.

Douglas charged fraud, and his reckless attack upon the integrity of
Stuart aroused in Lincoln's breast a resentment which never died. From
that time he regarded Douglas with strong dislike and disapproval,
and, although his natural generosity as well as his sense of propriety
silenced his tongue in public, he never concealed from his friends his
conviction that Douglas was without political morals. At the same time
he recognized the ability and power of "the Little Giant" as Douglas
was already called, and no one estimated more highly his ability as
an orator and his skill as a debater. Personally, Douglas was a very
attractive man. He had all the graces that Lincoln lacked,--short
and slight of stature, with a fine head, a winning manner, graceful
carriage, a sunny disposition, and an enthusiastic spirit. His personal
magnetism was almost irresistible to the old as well as the young, and
his voice was remarkable for its compass and the richness of its tones.
On the other hand, Lincoln was ungainly and awkward; his voice was not
musical, although it was very expressive; and, as I have before said, he
often acknowledged that there was no homelier man in all the States.

Douglas recognized an antagonist who was easier to avoid than to meet,
and attempted to keep Lincoln out of his path by treating him as an
inferior. On one occasion, when both happened to be in the same town,
there was a strong desire among the people to hear them discuss public
questions. The proposition irritated Judge Douglas, who, with his usual
arrogance, inquired,--

"What does Lincoln represent in this campaign? Is he an abolitionist or
a Whig?"

The committee replied that Lincoln was a Whig, whereupon Douglas
dismissed the subject in his pompous way, saying,--

"Oh, yes, I am now in the region of the Old Line Whig. When I am in
Northern Illinois I am assailed by an abolitionist, when I get to the
centre I am attacked by an Old Line Whig, when I go to Southern Illinois
I am beset by an Anti-Nebraska Democrat. It looks to me like dodging a
man all over the State. If Mr. Lincoln wants to make a speech he had
better get a crowd of his own, for I most respectfully decline to hold a
discussion with him."

Lincoln calmly ignored this assumption of superiority at the time, but
never failed to punish Mr. Douglas for it when they met upon the stump,
and, according to the testimony of their contemporaries, he was equal to
his able and adroit opponent from the beginning of their rivalry either
in the court-room, or in a rough-and-tumble debate, or in the serious
political discussion of great political questions. Only one of Lincoln's
speeches of this period of his life is preserved. That is an address
delivered at a sort of oratorical tournament at Springfield. There was
such a demand for it that a few days after its delivery he wrote out as
much as he could remember and the Whig managers printed it in pamphlet
form as a campaign document; but it was the last time he indulged in
the old-fashioned flights of eloquence. From that hour the topics he
discussed demanded his serious attention and his closest argument, and
he spoke to convince, not to excite admiration or merely to stir the
emotions of his audiences.

In 1854 the moral sense of the nation was shocked by the repeal of
what is called "The Missouri Compromise." That was a law passed in
1820 for the admission of the Territory of Missouri to the Union as
a slave State, upon a condition that slavery should not go north of
its northern boundary, latitude 36° 30'. Lincoln shared the national
indignation. Douglas, then in the United States Senate, was one of the
advocates of the repeal, and his powerful influence in Congress made
it possible. As soon as the action of Congress was announced, the
entire country was plunged into a discussion of the question on the
platform, in the pulpit, in the press, in the debating societies, by the
firesides, at the corner groceries, at the post-office, and wherever
people met together. Lincoln took no public part in the controversy for
several months, but during the interval studied the question in its
moral, historical, and constitutional bearings, and while the Democrats
accused him of "mousing around" the libraries of the State-House, he was
preparing himself for a controversy which he knew was sure to come.

That fall (1854) Richard Yates was up for Congress and Lincoln took
the stump in his behalf. In the mean time Mr. Douglas was speaking in
other sections of the State, but came to Springfield to attend the State
Agricultural Fair, and, being a United States Senator and a political
idol, was of course a great attraction. He made a speech justifying
the action of Congress, and, by common impulse, the opponents of the
repeal called upon Lincoln to answer him. There is no doubt of the zeal
and ardor with which he accepted the invitation, and he spoke for four
hours, as one of his friends testifies, "in a most happy and pleasant
style, and was received with abundant applause." At times he made
statements which brought Senator Douglas to his feet, and their passages
at arms created much excitement and enthusiasm. It was evident that the
force of Lincoln's argument surprised and disconcerted Mr. Douglas, for
he insisted upon making a two-hours' rejoinder, which of itself was a
confession of his defeat.

Lincoln's triumph on this occasion placed him at the head of the
political debaters of the State, and, in order that Mr. Douglas might
have another chance to retrieve himself, they met again twelve days
later at Peoria. Lincoln yielded to Douglas the advantage of the opening
and closing speeches, explaining that he did so from selfish motives,
because he wanted to hold the Democratic portion of the audience through
his own speech. At the request of the Whig leaders and politicians in
other parts of the State who had not been able to hear the discussion,
Mr. Lincoln wrote out his speech from memory and we have it in full. It
was by far the ablest and most profound composition he had produced up
to that time, and even now, after the lapse of half a century, it is
recognized as a model of political argument. He here rose from the rank
of the politician to that of the statesman, and never fell below it in
his future addresses. Lincoln and Douglas were understood by themselves
as well as by the public to be contesting for a seat in the United
States Senate, and the latter was so alarmed by Lincoln's unexpected
manifestation of power that he sought an interview on the pretence of
friendship and persuaded him into an agreement that neither should
make any more speeches before the actual campaign began,--an agreement
violated by Douglas during the next week.

Horace White, now editor of the _New York Evening Post_, says of the
speech just mentioned, "I was then in the employ of the _Chicago Evening
Journal_. I had been sent to Springfield to report the political
doings of State Fair week for that newspaper. Thus it came about that
I occupied a front seat in the Representatives' Hall, in the old
State-House, when Mr. Lincoln delivered the speech already described
in this volume. The impression made upon me by the orator was quite
overpowering. I had not heard much political speaking up to that time.
I have heard a great deal since. I have never heard anything since,
either by Mr. Lincoln, or by anybody, that I would put on a higher
plane of oratory. All the strings that play upon the human heart and
understanding were touched with masterly skill and force, while beyond
and above all skill was the overwhelming conviction pressed upon the
audience that the speaker himself was charged with an irresistible and
inspiring duty to his fellow-men. Having, since then, heard all the
great public speakers of this country subsequent to the period of Clay
and Webster, I award the palm to Mr. Lincoln as the one who, although
not first in all respects, would bring more men of doubtful or hostile
leanings around to his way of thinking by talking to them on a platform
than any other."

The next occasion upon which Lincoln displayed unusual power as an
orator was the Bloomington Convention for the organization of the
Republican party early in 1856. Never was an audience more completely
electrified by human speech. The Convention, which was composed of
former members of all political parties had adopted the name Republican,
had taken extreme grounds against slavery, and had launched a new
political organization; but it contained many discordant, envious, and
hostile elements. Those who had watched the proceedings were anxious
and apprehensive of dissension and jealousy, and Lincoln, with his
acute political perceptions, realized the danger, perhaps, more keenly
than any other man in the assembly. He saw before him a group of
earnest, zealous, sincere men, willing to make tremendous sacrifices
and undertake Titanic tasks, but at the same time most of them clung
to their own theories and advocated their individual methods with a
tenacity that promised to defeat their common purpose. Therefore, when
he arose in response to the unanimous demand for a speech from the great
orator of Springfield, his soul was flooded with a desire and a purpose
to harmonize and amalgamate the patriotic emotions of his associates. He
realized that it was a crisis in the history of his country, and rose to
the full height of the occasion.

Those who were present say that at first he spoke slowly, cautiously,
and in a monotone, but gradually his words grew in force and intensity
until he swept the discordant souls of the assembly together and his
hearers "arose from their chairs with pale faces and quivering lips and
pressed unconsciously towards him." His influence was irresistible.
Even the trained reporters, accustomed to witness the most touching and
impressive scenes with the indifference of their profession, dropped
their pencils, and what was perhaps the greatest speech of Lincoln's
entire career was unreported. Joseph Medill, afterwards editor of the
_Chicago Tribune_, who was then a reporter for that paper, says,--

"I did make a few paragraphs of what Lincoln said in the first eight
or ten minutes, but I became so absorbed in his magnetic oratory that
I forgot myself and ceased to take notes. I well remember that after
Lincoln sat down, and calm had succeeded the tempest, I waked out of a
sort of hypnotic trance, and then thought of my report to the _Tribune_.
It was some sort of satisfaction to find that I had not been 'scooped,'
as all the newspaper men present had been equally carried away by the
excitement caused by the wonderful oration and had made no report or
sketch of the speech."

But every reporter and editor went home bursting with enthusiasm, and
while none of them could remember it entire, fragments of "Lincoln's
Lost Speech," as it was called, floated through the entire press of the
United States. No one was more deeply moved than Lincoln himself, and,
although continually appealed to by his political associates and the
newspapers, he admitted his inability to reproduce his words or even his
thoughts after the inspiration under which he had spoken expired. But
his purpose was accomplished. Those who assumed the name "Republicans"
were thereafter animated by a single purpose and resolution.

As in former campaigns, Lincoln was placed upon the electoral ticket and
made fifty or more speeches in Illinois and the adjoining States for
Frémont in his contest against Buchanan for the Presidency in 1856.

Soon after the inauguration of President Buchanan, the Supreme Court
of the United States delivered an opinion in that famous trial known
as the Dred Scott case which created intense excitement. A slave of
that name sued for his freedom on the ground that his master had taken
him from Missouri to reside in the State of Illinois and the Territory
of Wisconsin, where slavery was prohibited by law. Judge Taney and a
majority of the Supreme bench, after hearing the case argued twice by
eminent counsel, decided that a negro was not entitled to bring suit in
a court. In addition, it indirectly announced its opinion that under the
Constitution of the United States neither Congress nor a territorial
Legislature had any power to prohibit slavery within Federal territory.
The people of the North cried out in protest, the people of the South
defended the decision as just and righteous altogether, and then began
a series of discussion which ended only with the emancipation of the

Senator Douglas was left in a curious situation, for he had justified
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, which prohibited the extension
of slavery, on the ground of popular sovereignty, holding that under
the Constitution each Territory was authorized to decide the question
for itself, and in defence of that position he had made many speeches.
It became necessary, therefore, for him to reconcile it with the
decision of the Supreme Court, which he attempted to do by an able
argument at Springfield shortly after. It was the first presentation
of his ingenious and celebrated "Freeport Doctrine," which, briefly,
was that while the Supreme Court was correct in its interpretation of
the Constitution, a Territory cannot be divested of its right to adopt
and enforce appropriate police regulations. As such regulations could
only be made by Legislatures elected by a popular vote, he argued, the
great principle of popular sovereignty and self-government was not only
sustained, but was even more firmly established by the Dred Scott

This argument naturally excited the interest of Lincoln, who answered it
in an elaborate speech two weeks later, and thus forced the issue into
the campaign for the election of a Legislature which was to choose the
successor of Mr. Douglas in the United States Senate. Douglas was in an
unpleasant predicament. He was compelled to choose between the favor
and support of the Buchanan administration and that of the people of
Illinois. As the latter alternative was necessary to his public career,
he adopted it, and when Congress met he attacked the administration
with his usual force and ability. His course was approved by a large
majority of the Democratic party in Illinois, but stimulated the hope
of the Republicans of that State that they might defeat him and elect
Abraham Lincoln, who was entitled to the honor because he had yielded
his priority of claim to Lyman Trumbull in 1854 and was now recognized
as the foremost champion of the new Republican party in Illinois.
Therefore, when the Republican State Convention met in June, 1858, it
adopted by acclamation a resolution declaring that he was the first and
only choice of the Republican party for the United States Senate.

Mr. Herndon, Lincoln's law partner, says,--

"He had been led all along to expect his nomination to the Senate, and
with that in view had been earnestly and quietly at work preparing
a speech in acknowledgment of the honor about to be conferred upon
him. This speech he wrote on stray envelopes and scraps of paper, as
ideas suggested themselves, putting them into that miscellaneous and
convenient receptacle, his hat. As the Convention drew near he copied
the whole on connected sheets, carefully revising every line and
sentence, and fastened them together for reference during the delivery
of the speech and for publication. A few weeks before the Convention,
when he was at work on the speech, I remember that Jesse K. Dubois,
who was Auditor of the State, came into the office and, seeing Lincoln
busily writing, inquired what he was doing or what he was writing.
Lincoln answered gruffly, 'It's something you may see or hear some time,
but I'll not let you see it now.' After the Convention Lincoln met him
on the street and said, 'Dubois, I can tell you what I was doing the
other day when you came into my office. I was writing that speech, and I
knew if I read the passage about 'the house divided against itself' to
you, you would ask me to change or modify it, and that I was determined
not to do. I had willed it so, and was willing, if necessary, to perish
with it.'

"Before delivering his speech he invited a dozen or so of his friends to
the library of the State-House, where he read and submitted it to them.
After the reading he asked each man for his opinion. Some condemned
and no one endorsed it. Having patiently listened to these various
criticisms from his friends, all of which, with a single exception,
were adverse, he rose from his chair, and after alluding to the careful
study and intense thought he had given the question, he answered all
their objections substantially as follows: 'Friends, this thing has been
retarded long enough. The time has come when those sentiments should be
uttered; and if it is decreed that I should go down because of this
speech, then let me go down linked to the truth--let me die in the
advocacy of what is just and right.'"

After completing its routine work, the Convention adjourned to meet
in the Hall of Representatives at Springfield that evening to hear
Lincoln's speech, and it was anticipated with intense interest and
anxiety because the gentlemen whom Lincoln had taken into his confidence
had let it be known that he was to take a very radical position. It was
the most carefully prepared speech he ever made, although he delivered
it from memory, and after a few opening sentences he uttered this bold
and significant declaration which evoked an enthusiastic response from
all of the free States of the Union:

"'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this
government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not
expect the Union to be dissolved--I do not expect the house to fall--but
I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or
all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further
spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the
belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates
will push it forward until it shall become alike lawful in all the
States, old as well as new, North as well as South."

Shortly after this event, Senator Douglas returned from Washington and
took the stump, attracting immense crowds and exciting great enthusiasm.
His speeches, however, were evasive and contained much special pleading
as well as misstatement. Lincoln watched him closely, and, recognizing
that Douglas was fighting unfairly, decided to bring him to terms. Hence
he addressed him a challenge to joint debate. Judge Weldon, who was
living in Illinois at the time, tells the story as follows:

"We wrote Mr. Lincoln he had better come and hear Douglas speak at
Clinton, which he did. There was an immense crowd for a country town,
and on the way to the grove where the speaking took place, Mr. Lincoln
said to me,--

"'Weldon, I have challenged Judge Douglas for a discussion. What do you
think of it?'

"I replied, 'I approve your judgment in whatever you do.'

"We went over a little to one side of the crowd and sat down on one of
the boards laid on logs for seats. Douglas spoke over three hours to an
immense audience, and made one of the most forcible speeches I ever
heard. As he went on he referred to Lincoln's Springfield speech, and
became very personal, and I said to Mr. Lincoln,--

"'Do you suppose Douglas knows you are here?'

"'Well,' he replied, 'I don't know whether he does or not; he has not
looked in this direction. But I reckon some of the boys have told him I
am here.'

"When Douglas finished there was a tremendous shout for 'Lincoln,' which
kept on with no let up. Mr. Lincoln said,--

"'What shall I do? I can't speak here.'

"'You will have to say something,' I replied. 'Suppose you get up and
say that you will speak this evening at the court-house yard.'

"Mr. Lincoln mounted the board seat, and as the crowd got sight of his
tall form the shouts and cheers were wild. As soon as he could make
himself heard he said,--

"'This is Judge Douglas's meeting. I have no right, therefore, no
disposition to interfere. But if you ladies and gentlemen desire to hear
what I have to say on these questions, and will meet me this evening at
the court-house yard, east side, I will try to answer this gentleman.'

"Lincoln made a speech that evening which in volume did not equal the
speech of Douglas, but for sound and cogent argument was the superior.
Douglas had charged Mr. Lincoln with being in favor of negro equality,
which was then the bugbear of politics. In his speech that evening Mr.
Lincoln said,--

"'Judge Douglas charges me with being in favor of negro equality, and
to the extent that he charges I am not guilty. I am guilty of hating
servitude and loving freedom; and while I would not carry the equality
of the races to the extent charged by my adversary, I am happy to
confess before you that in some things the black man is the equal of
the white man. In the right to eat the bread his own hands have earned
he is the equal of Judge Douglas or any other living man.'

"When Lincoln spoke the last sentence he had lifted himself to his
full height, and as he reached his hands towards the stars of that
still night, then and there fell from his lips one of the most sublime
expressions of American statesmanship. The effect was grand, the cheers

Senator Douglas accepted the challenge, and the famous debate was
arranged which for public interest and forensic ability has never
been surpassed or equalled in any country. Seven dates and towns were
selected, and the debaters were placed on an equal footing by an
arrangement that alternately one should speak an hour in opening and the
other an hour and a half in reply, the first to have half an hour in

In addition to his seven meetings with Douglas, Lincoln made thirty-one
other set speeches arranged by the State Central Committee during the
campaign, besides many brief addresses not previously advertised.
Sometimes he spoke several times a day, and was exposed to a great
deal of discomfort and fatigue which none but a man of his physical
strength could have endured. He paid his own expenses, travelled by
ordinary cars and freight trains, and often was obliged to drive in
wagons or to ride horseback to keep his engagements. Mr. Douglas enjoyed
a great advantage. He had been in the Senate several years and had
influential friends holding government offices all over the State, who
had time and money to arrange receptions and entertainments and lost no
opportunity to lionize him. Every Federal official, for weeks before
the joint meetings, gave his attention to the arrangements and was
held responsible by Mr. Douglas for securing a large and enthusiastic
Democratic audience. He was accompanied by his wife, a beautiful
and brilliant woman, and by a committee of the most distinguished
Democratic politicians in the State. He travelled in a special train
furnished by the Illinois Central Railroad, and in charge of Captain
George B. McClellan, who was then its general manager. Every employee
of that road was a partisan of Douglas, voluntary or involuntary, and
several times Lincoln was compelled to suffer unnecessary delay and
inconvenience because of their partisanship. Many a time when he was
trying to get a little sleep in a wayside station, while waiting for
a connection, or lay in a bunk in the caboose of a freight train, the
special car of his opponent, decorated with flags and lithographs, would
go sweeping by.

A gentleman who accompanied him during the canvass relates this:
"Lincoln and I were at the Centralia Agricultural Fair the day after
the debate at Jonesboro. Night came on and we were tired, having been
on the fair grounds all day. We were to go north on the Illinois
Central Railroad. The train was due at midnight, and the depot was full
of people. I managed to get a chair for Lincoln in the office of the
superintendent of the railroad, but small politicians would intrude so
that he could scarcely get a moment's sleep. The train came and was
filled instantly. I got a seat near the door for Lincoln and myself.
He was worn out, and had to meet Douglas the next day at Charleston.
An empty car, called a saloon car, was hitched on to the rear of the
train and locked up. I asked the conductor, who knew Lincoln and myself
well,--we were both attorneys of the road,--if Lincoln could not ride
in that car; that he was exhausted and needed rest; but the conductor
refused. I afterwards got him in by stratagem."

The meetings were attended by enormous crowds. People came twenty and
thirty miles in carriages and wagons, devoting two or three days to
the excursion, and the local excitement was intense. The two parties
endeavored to excel each other in processions, music, fireworks, and
novel features. At each town salutes would be fired and an address
of welcome delivered by some prominent citizen. Sometimes committees
of ladies would present the speakers bouquets of flowers, and on one
occasion they wound garlands around the lank and awkward form of the
future President, much to his embarrassment and dismay. After a debate
at Ottawa, the enthusiasm was so great that a party of his admirers
carried him on their shoulders from the meeting to the house where he
was being entertained.

Lincoln did not underrate the ability or the advantages of his opponent.
He realized fully the serious character and importance of the contest
in which he was engaged. He was aware that the entire country was
watching him with anxious eyes, and that he was addressing not only the
multitudes that gathered around the platforms, but the entire population
of the United States. He knew also that whatever he might say would have
a permanent effect upon the fortunes of the Republican party, then only
two years old, not to speak of his own personal destiny.

He knew Douglas as well and perhaps better than Douglas knew himself.
They had been acquainted from boyhood, and their lives had run in
parallels in a most remarkable manner. They had met at the threshold of
their political careers. They had served together in the Legislature
twenty-three years before. They were admitted to practice at the bar
of the Supreme Court together. They had been rivals for the hand of
the same lady, as related in a previous chapter. They served together
in Congress. They had met repeatedly, and had measured strength in the
Legislature, in the courts, and on the platform. They had always been
upon outwardly friendly terms, but each knew that the other disliked him
intensely. It is probable that his inquisitive nature and analytical
habits gave Lincoln a better knowledge of the strong and weak points of
his antagonist. He was very thorough in whatever he undertook, while
Douglas was more confident and careless in his preparation. Lincoln
knew that in the whole field of American politics there was no man so
adroit or aggressive or gifted in the tricks and strategy of debate,
and in this contest Douglas showed his fullest power. Lincoln's talents
and habits were entirely different. He indulged in no tricks and made
no effort to dazzle audiences. His fairness of statement and generosity
were well known and understood by Mr. Douglas, who took advantage
of them. His high standard of political morals and his devotion to
constitutional principles were equally well understood, and Douglas took
advantage of those also.

Douglas electrified the crowds with his eloquence and charmed them
by his grace and dexterity. He was forcible in statement, aggressive
in assertion, and treated Lincoln in a patronizing and contemptuous
manner; but Lincoln's simplicity of statement, his homely illustrations,
quaint originality, and convincing logic were often more forcible than
the lofty flights of eloquence in which his opponent indulged. He was
more careful and accurate in his statement of facts, and his knowledge
of the details of history and the legislation of Congress was a great
advantage, for he convicted Douglas of misrepresentation again and
again, although it seemed to have had no effect whatever upon the
confidence of the latter's supporters. As usual, Mr. Lincoln kept close
to the subject and spoke to convince and not to amuse or entertain. When
one of his friends suggested that his reputation for story-telling was
being destroyed by the seriousness of his speeches, Lincoln replied that
this was no time for jokes.

One of the gentlemen who accompanied Mr. Lincoln has given us the
following description of his appearance and manner of speaking: "When
standing erect he was six feet four inches high. He was lean in flesh
and ungainly in figure: thin through the chest, and hence slightly
stoop-shouldered. When he arose to address courts, juries, or crowds
of people his body inclined forward to a slight degree. At first he
was very awkward, and it seemed a real labor to adjust himself to the
surroundings. He struggled for a time under a feeling of apparent
diffidence and sensitiveness, and these only added to his awkwardness.
When he began speaking, his voice was shrill, piping, and unpleasant.
His manner, his attitude, his dark, yellow face wrinkled and dry,
his oddity of pose, his diffident movements,--everything seemed to
be against him, but only for a short time. After having arisen, he
generally placed his hands behind him, the back of his left hand
in the palm of his right, the thumb and fingers of his right hand
clasped around the left arm at the wrist. For a few moments he played
the combination of awkwardness, sensitiveness, and diffidence. As he
proceeded he became somewhat animated, and to keep in harmony with his
growing warmth his hands relaxed their grasp and fell to his side.
Presently he clasped them in front of him, interlocking his fingers,
one thumb meanwhile chasing the other. His speech now requiring more
emphatic utterance, his fingers unlocked and his hands fell apart.
His left arm was thrown behind, the back of his hand resting against
his body, his right hand seeking his side. By this time he had gained
sufficient composure, and his real speech began. He did not gesticulate
as much with his hands as he did with his head. He used the latter
frequently, throwing it with vim this way and that. This movement was a
significant one when he sought to enforce his statement. It sometimes
came with a quick jerk, as if throwing off electric sparks into
combustible material. He never sawed the air nor rent space into tatters
and rags, as some orators do. He never acted for stage effect. He was
cool, considerate, reflective--in time self-possessed and self-reliant.
His style was clear, terse, and compact. In argument he was logical,
demonstrative, and fair. He was careless of his dress, and his clothes,
instead of fitting, as did the garments of Douglas on the latter's
well-rounded form, hung loosely on his giant frame.

"As he moved along in his speech he became freer and less uneasy in his
movements; to that extent he was graceful. He had a perfect naturalness,
a strong individuality; and to that extent he was dignified. There was
a world of meaning and emphasis in the long, bony finger of his right
hand as he dotted the ideas on the minds of his hearers. Sometimes,
to express joy or pleasure, he would raise both hands at an angle of
about fifty degrees, the palms upward. If the sentiment was one of
detestation,--denunciation of slavery, for example,--both arms, thrown
upward and the fists clinched, swept through the air, and he expressed
an execration that was truly sublime. This was one of his most effective
gestures, and signified most vividly a fixed determination to drag down
the object of his hatred and trample it in the dust. He always stood
squarely on his feet, toe even with toe; that is, he never put one
foot before the other. He neither touched nor leaned on anything for
support. He made but few changes in his positions and attitudes. He
never ranted, never walked backward and forward on the platform. To ease
his arms he frequently caught hold, with his left hand, of the lapel of
his coat, keeping his thumb upright and leaving his right hand free to
gesticulate. The designer of the monument erected in Chicago has happily
caught him in just this attitude. As he proceeded with his speech the
exercise of his vocal organs altered somewhat the tone of his voice. It
lost in a measure its former acute and shrilling pitch, and mellowed
into a more harmonious and pleasant sound. His form expanded, and,
notwithstanding the sunken breast, he rose up a splendid and imposing
figure. His little gray eyes flashed in a face aglow with the fire of
his profound thoughts, and his uneasy movements and diffident manner
sunk themselves beneath the wave of righteous indignation that came
sweeping over him. Such was Lincoln the orator."

Mr. Lincoln's own impressions were expressed to a friend as follows:
"Senator Douglas is of world-wide renown," he said. "All of the anxious
politicians of his party, or who have been of his party for years
past, have been looking upon him as certainly at no distant day to be
President of the United States. They have seen in his round, jolly,
fruitful face post-offices, land-offices, marshalships, and Cabinet
appointments, chargé-ships and foreign missions, bursting and sprouting
out in wonderful exuberance ready to be laid hold of by their greedy
hands. And as they have been gazing upon this attractive picture so
long, they cannot, in the little distraction that has taken place in
the party, bring themselves to give up the charming hope; but with
greedier anxiety they rush about him, sustain him, and give him marches,
triumphal entries, and receptions beyond what even in the days of
highest prosperity they could have brought about in his favor. On the
contrary, nobody has ever expected me to be President. In my poor, lean,
lank face nobody has ever seen that any cabbages were sprouting out.
These are disadvantages, all taken together, that the Republicans labor
under. We have to fight this battle upon principle, and principle alone."

As a rule, when both occupied the same platform their manners and
language were very courteous; but occasionally, when speaking elsewhere,
Mr. Douglas lost his temper and indulged in personal attacks upon his
opponent. Mr. Horace White, who reported the debate for one of the
Chicago papers, describes one of these occasions as follows;

"We arrived at Havana while Douglas was still speaking. I strolled up to
the Douglas meeting just before its conclusion, and there met a friend
who had heard the whole. He was in a state of high indignation. He said
that Douglas must certainly have been drinking before he came on the
platform, because he had called Lincoln 'a liar, a coward, a wretch,
and a sneak.'" When Mr. Lincoln replied, on the following day, he took
notice of Douglas's hard words in this way:

"I am informed that my distinguished friend yesterday became a little
excited, nervous(?) perhaps, and that he said something about fighting,
as though looking to a personal encounter between himself and me. Did
anybody in this audience hear him use such language? ['Yes, yes.'] I am
informed, further, that somebody in his audience, rather more excited
or nervous than himself, took off his coat and offered to take the job
off Judge Douglas's hands and fight Lincoln himself. Did anybody here
witness that warlike proceeding? [Laughter and cries of 'Yes.'] Well, I
merely desire to say that I shall fight neither Judge Douglas nor his
second. I shall not do this for two reasons, which I will explain. In
the first place, a fight would prove nothing which is in issue in this
election. It might establish that Judge Douglas is a more muscular man
than myself, or it might show that I am a more muscular man than Judge
Douglas; but that subject is not referred to in the Cincinnati platform,
nor in either of the Springfield platforms. Neither result would prove
him right nor me wrong. And so of the gentleman who offered to do his
fighting for him. If my fighting Judge Douglas would not prove anything,
it would certainly prove nothing for me to fight his bottle-holder. My
second reason for not having a personal encounter with Judge Douglas is
that I don't believe he wants it himself. He and I are about the best
friends in the world, and when we get together he would no more think of
fighting me than of fighting his wife. Therefore when the Judge talked
about fighting he was not giving vent to any ill-feeling of his own, but
was merely trying to excite--well, let us say enthusiasm against me on
the part of his audience. And, as I find he was tolerably successful in
this, we will call it quits."

The crisis of the debate came at Freeport on August 27, 1858, when
Lincoln proposed a series of questions for Douglas to answer. At the
previous meeting at Ottawa, Douglas propounded a series of questions for
Lincoln which were designed to commit him to strong abolition doctrines.
He asked whether Lincoln was pledged to the repeal of the fugitive-slave
law, to resist the admission of any more slave States, to the abolition
of slavery in the District of Columbia, to the prohibition of the
slave-trade between the States, to the prohibition of slavery in the
Territories, and to oppose the acquisition of any new Territory unless
slavery was prohibited therein. Lincoln replied with great candor that
he was pledged to no proposition except the prohibition of slavery in
all the Territories of the United States. It was then that he turned
upon Douglas with four questions, the second of which was laden with the
most tremendous consequences not only to the debaters personally, but to
the entire nation and the cause of human freedom:

"Can the people of a United States Territory in any lawful way, against
the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from its
limits prior to the formation of a State Constitution?"

In proposing this question Lincoln rejected the advice and disregarded
the entreaties of his wisest friends and most devoted adherents, for
they predicted that it would give Douglas an opportunity to square
himself with the people of Illinois and to secure his re-election to the
United States Senate. Lincoln 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."

This prediction, which was afterwards fulfilled, shows Lincoln's
remarkable political foresight perhaps better than any single incident
in his career. A private letter, written more than a month before, shows
that Lincoln had long and carefully studied the probable consequences
of the answer that Douglas must make to such an interrogatory, and its
fatal effect upon his political fortunes; for, even then, he foresaw
that Douglas was to be the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of
the United States, and that his reply would deprive him of the support
of more than half of the members of that party. With extraordinary
sagacity, he pointed out that Douglas would eagerly seize upon such an
opportunity as this interrogatory afforded to place himself right before
his constituents in Illinois, and thus would recover his popularity and
insure his re-election to the Senate. And he was confident that Douglas
was so shortsighted as to do this and then trust to his cunning to set
himself right afterwards with the people of the slave States, which
Lincoln believed would be impossible. But even he did not realize the
tremendous and far-reaching results of his inquiry, for the answer which
Douglas gave split the Democratic party into irreconcilable factions,
and enabled the Republican minority to select the President of the
United States at the most critical period of the nation's history, and
thus to save the Union.

"You will have hard work to get him [Douglas] directly to the point
whether a territorial Legislature has or has not the power to exclude
slavery," said Lincoln to a friend; "but if you succeed in bringing
him to it, though he will be compelled to say it possesses no such
power, he will instantly take the ground that slavery cannot exist in
the Territories unless the people desire it, and so give it protection
by territorial legislation. If this offends the South, he will let it
offend them, as, at all events, he means to hold on to his chances in
Illinois." And that was exactly what Douglas did do. He repeated the
sophism he had advanced in his speech at Springfield on the Dred Scott
decision the previous year, and said,--

"It matters not what way the Supreme Court may hereafter decide as to
the abstract question whether slavery may or may not go into a Territory
under the Constitution; the people have the lawful means to introduce
it or exclude it as they please, for the reason that slavery cannot
exist a day or an hour anywhere unless it is supported by local police
regulations. Those police regulations can only be established by the
local Legislature, and if the people are opposed to slavery, they will
elect representatives to that body who will, by unfriendly legislation,
effectually prevent the introduction of it into their midst. If, on the
contrary, they are for it, their legislation will favor its extension."

The supporters of Douglas shouted with satisfaction at the clever way in
which he had escaped the trap Lincoln had set for him. His re-election
to the Senate was practically secured, and Lincoln had been defeated
at his own game. Lincoln's friends were correspondingly depressed, and
in their despondency admitted that their favorite had no longer any
prospect of election; that he had thrown his own chances away.

Mr. Douglas was re-elected; but when Congress met in December, and he
was removed by the Democratic caucus from the chairmanship of the Senate
Committee on Territories, which he had held for eleven years, because he
had betrayed the slave-holders in his answer to Lincoln, at Freeport,
the Republicans of Illinois began to realize the political sagacity of
their leader. Then when, for the same reason, the Democratic National
Convention at Charleston was broken up by the Southern delegates rather
than accept Douglas as the Democratic candidate for the Presidency,
Lincoln's reputation as a political prophet was established.

In 1861 Lincoln asked Joseph Medill, of the _Chicago Tribune_, if he
recalled his opposition to putting that fatal question to Douglas.

"Yes," replied Medill, "I recollect it very well. It lost Douglas the
Presidency, but it lost you the Senatorship."

"Yes," said Mr. Lincoln. "And I have won the place he was playing for."

Douglas was the regular Democratic candidate for President against
Lincoln in 1860, but was opposed by the Southern faction. At Lincoln's
inauguration he appeared with his usual dignity, and stood beside
his rival upon the platform. As a member of the Senate he criticised
Lincoln's policy until hostilities actually broke out, when his
patriotism overcame his partisanship and he became an earnest supporter
of the government. On the evening of April 14, the day of the fall of
Sumter, he called at the White House by appointment and spent two hours
alone with the President. Neither ever revealed what occurred at the
interview, but it was not necessary. From that hour until his death on
June 3 following he stood by Lincoln's side in defence of the Union. His
last public utterance was a patriotic speech before the Legislature on
April 25, urging the people of Illinois to stand by the flag. His last
interview with Lincoln occurred a few days previous.

"Douglas came rushing in," said the President afterwards, "and said he
had just got a telegraph message from some friends in Illinois urging
him to come out and help set things right in Egypt, and that he would go
or stay in Washington, just where I thought he could do the most good.
I told him to do as he chose, but that he would probably do best in
Illinois. Upon that he shook hands with me and hurried away to catch the
next train. I never saw him again."

The country at large had watched the debate between Lincoln and Douglas
with profound interest, and thinking men of both parties realized that
a new leader as well as a great orator and statesman had appeared
upon the horizon. Lincoln was overwhelmed with congratulations and
invitations came from every direction to make speeches and deliver
lectures, but most of them were declined. He spoke twice in Ohio, at
Columbus and at Cincinnati, where he excited great enthusiasm and left
so deep an impression that the State Committee published his speeches
and the debate with Douglas as a campaign document. In December he went
to Kansas and delivered five lectures, and in the spring of 1860 he
received an invitation from a young men's association in Brooklyn to
deliver a lecture in Plymouth Church, of which Henry Ward Beecher was
then pastor. They offered a fee of two hundred dollars which was very
acceptable because his practice had been sadly neglected and he was
feeling very poor. At the same time his natural diffidence made him
reluctant to appear before an Eastern audience, and when he arrived in
New York and discovered that he was to speak in Cooper Institute instead
of in Brooklyn, he was fearful that he had made a mistake. Henry C.
Bowen invited him to be his guest in Brooklyn, but he declined, saying
that he was afraid his lecture would not be a success and he must give
his whole time to revising it. He was afraid his audience would be
disappointed and the young men who had kindly invited him would suffer

[Illustration: Copyright, 1896, by S. S. McClure Co.


Copied from the original in the possession of Frank A. Brown, Esq.,
Minneapolis, Minnesota]

This was perhaps the first time Lincoln ever misjudged his situation.
His intuitions as well as his reasoning powers were usually very
accurate, but in this case they were far out of the way, for when he
arrived at Cooper Institute he was amazed to find the immense hall
crowded with the representatives of the culture, commerce, finance, and
industry of the metropolis. It was a notable audience in many respects.
He was escorted to the platform by Horace Greeley and David Dudley
Field, and introduced by William Cullen Bryant. Every man of importance
in New York City was present, many of them, no doubt, attracted by
curiosity to see and hear the homely lawyer from the prairies of whom
they had read in the newspapers. But he captivated his audience from
the start. Every hearer was impressed not only with his convincing
arguments, but with his dignity and eloquence.

Lincoln began his address in a low monotone, and was evidently
embarrassed, but the respectful attention with which he was heard gave
him confidence, his tones rose in strength and gained in clearness, and
his awkward manner disappeared, as it always did when his consciousness
was lost in the earnest presentation of his thoughts. His style was so
simple, his language so unstudied and terse, his illustration so quaint
and apt, his reasoning so concise and compact that his critics asked
themselves and one another, as Henry M. Field says, "What manner of
man is this lawyer from the West who has set forth these truths as we
have never heard them before?" Lincoln made no effort at display. He
estimated the intelligence of his hearers accurately, and introduced
neither anecdote nor witticism, nor is there a figure of speech or
a poetic fancy in the first half of his oration. There was no more
sentiment than he would have introduced in a legal argument before the
Supreme Court, but he nevertheless arrested and held the attention of
his hearers, and they gave abundant testimony that they recognized
him as a master. No man ever made a more profound impression upon an
American audience. His speech was published in full in four of the
morning papers and extracts were copied widely throughout the country.

The Honorable Joseph H. Choate, ambassador to Great Britain, himself one
of the most eminent of American orators, in an address at Edinburgh in
1900, has given us the following graphic description of Lincoln's Cooper
Institute speech:

"It is now forty years since I first saw and heard Abraham Lincoln, but
the impression which he left on my mind is ineffaceable. After his great
successes in the West he came to New York to make a political address.
He appeared in every sense of the word like one of the plain people
among whom he loved to be counted. At first sight there was nothing
impressive or imposing about him, except that his great stature singled
him out from the crowd; his clothes hung awkwardly on his giant frame,
his face was of a dark pallor, without the slightest tinge of color; his
seamed and rugged features bore the furrows of hardship and struggle;
his deep-set eyes looked sad and anxious; his countenance in repose gave
little evidence of that brainpower which had raised him from the lowest
to the highest station among his countrymen. As he talked to me before
the meeting he seemed ill at ease, with that sort of apprehension which
a young man might feel before presenting himself to a new and strange
audience whose critical disposition he dreaded.

"It was a great audience, including all the noted men--all the learned
and cultured--of his party in New York: editors, clergymen, statesmen,
lawyers, merchants, critics. They were all very curious to hear him.
His fame as a powerful speaker had preceded him, and exaggerated rumor
of his wit had reached the East. When Mr. Bryant presented him on the
high platform of the Cooper Institute a vast sea of eager, upturned
faces greeted him, full of intense curiosity to see what this rude
child of the people was like. He was equal to the occasion. When he
spoke he was transformed; his eye kindled, his voice rang, his face
shone and seemed to light up the whole assembly. For an hour and a half
he held his audience in the hollow of his hand. His style of speech
and manner of delivery were severely simple. What Lowell called 'the
grand simplicities of the Bible,' with which he was so familiar, were
reflected in his discourse. With no attempt at ornament or rhetoric,
without parade or pretence, he spoke straight to the point. If any
came expecting the turgid eloquence or the ribaldry of the frontier,
they must have been startled at the earnest and sincere purity of his
utterances. It was marvellous to see how this untutored man, by mere
self-discipline and the chastening of his own spirit, had outgrown all
meretricious arts, and found his way to the grandeur and strength of
absolute simplicity.

"He spoke upon the theme which he had mastered so thoroughly. He
demonstrated by copious historical proofs and masterly logic that the
fathers who created the Constitution in order to form a more perfect
union, to establish justice, and to secure the blessings of liberty
to themselves and their posterity, intended to empower the Federal
government to exclude slavery from the Territories. In the kindliest
spirit, he protested against the avowed threat of the Southern States to
destroy the Union if, in order to secure freedom in those vast regions,
out of which future States were to be carved, a Republican President
were elected. He closed with an appeal to his audience, spoken with all
the fire of his aroused and kindling conscience, with a full outpouring
of his love of justice and liberty, to maintain their political purpose
on that lofty and unassailable issue of right and wrong which alone
could justify it, and not to be intimidated from their high resolve and
sacred duty by any threats of destruction to the government or of ruin
to themselves. He concluded with this telling sentence, which drove the
whole argument home to all our hearts:

"'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.'

"That night the great hall, and the next day the whole city, rang
with delighted applause and congratulations, and he who had come as a
stranger departed with the laurels of a great triumph."

While in New York he visited the Five Points House of Industry, and the
following account of what occurred is given by a teacher there: "Our
Sunday-School in the Five Points was assembled, one Sabbath morning,
when I noticed a tall, remarkable man enter the room and take a seat
among us. He listened with fixed attention to our exercises, and his
countenance expressed such genuine interest that I approached him and
suggested that he might be willing to say something to the children.
He accepted the invitation with evident pleasure, and, coming forward,
began a simple address which at once fascinated every little hearer and
hushed the room into silence. His language was strikingly beautiful and
his tones musical with the intensest feeling. The little faces around
him would droop into sad conviction as he uttered the sentences of
warning, and would brighten into sunshine as he spoke cheerful words
of promise. Once or twice he attempted to close his remarks, but the
imperative shouts of 'Go on!' 'Oh, do go on!' would compel him to
resume. As I looked upon the gaunt and sinewy frame of the stranger
and marked his powerful head and determined features, now touched into
softness by the impressions of the moment, I felt an irresistible
curiosity to learn something more about him, and when he was quietly
leaving the room I begged to know his name. He courteously replied,--

"'Abraham Lincoln, from Illinois.'"

Lincoln received many invitations to speak in New England and delivered
addresses in all of the prominent cities, where he created the same
favorable impression and awakened the same popular enthusiasm.

After his inauguration as President, Lincoln made no formal speeches
except his two inaugural addresses, but scarcely a week passed that he
did not deliver some pleasant little speech from the balcony of the
White House or at one of the military camps, and during his journey
to Washington he was especially happy in his treatment of the serious
questions which were troubling the public mind.



When Abraham Lincoln was twenty-two years old and a clerk in Denton
Offutt's store he offered himself to the voters of New Salem and
vicinity as a candidate for the Illinois Legislature. It was the year
that the Whigs held their first National Convention and nominated
Henry Clay as their candidate for President; and from that time, as
has been seen, Lincoln made politics as well as law a profession, and
participated actively in every campaign until he was elected President.

In those days nominations for office were made by announcement and not
by conventions, and, according to custom, with thirteen other citizens
fired with similar ambition, Lincoln issued a circular or "handbill,"
as it was familiarly called, setting forth in quaint and characteristic
candor his "sentiments with regard to local affairs." It was his
platform, and no utterance of his entire life is more interesting than
the few personal remarks which he addressed to his neighbors:

"Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. 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 fellow-men 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."

It was an audacious act for a young man who had been in the county
only about nine months to aspire to the honor and responsibility of a
law-maker, but, compared with his neighbors, Lincoln's qualifications
were conspicuous. He could read and write, had a fair knowledge of
literature, had read two or three law-books, was a practical surveyor,
and by reason of his two journeys to New Orleans had seen a good
deal more of the world than any one in that neighborhood. But these
qualifications did not count for much in comparison with his ability
as a public speaker and his faculty of doing things which had already
made him a reputation throughout the county. Although his advantages
had been limited, they were superior to those enjoyed by three-fourths
of the young men in Sangamon County, and for education, experience,
and other qualifications he surpassed a majority of the members of
the Legislature. There were only a few men of culture and education
in that body. It was chiefly made up of illiterate pioneers who mixed
politics with farming and carried on their campaigns at camp-meetings,
horseraces, country stores, and taverns, and resorted to every
subterfuge that their shrewd minds could invent to secure votes. At the
same time they were generally honest, patriotic, and earnest for the
welfare of their constituents and their personal characters commanded
the esteem and confidence of the public. Among such men Lincoln's talent
for talking and writing, his knowledge of poetry and literature, and,
more than all, his genius as a story-teller excited admiration and
respect, and he was regarded as the most promising young man in the
neighborhood. His announcement "handbill" discussed the several topics
which at that time were being agitated, such as the improvement of the
Sangamon River. He related his experience with flat-boats, and declared
that by straightening the channel and clearing away the drift-wood
the stream could be made navigable. "The improvement of the Sangamon
River," he sagely remarked, "is an object much better suited to our
infant resources" than the construction of a railway, and, indeed, it
was fifteen years later that the first whistle of a locomotive was heard
in Illinois. He took broad grounds in favor of internal improvements,
advocated a law prohibiting money-loaners from charging exorbitant rates
of interest, and favored liberal appropriations for education.

"For my part," he said, "I desire to see the time when education, and
by its means morality, sobriety, enterprise, and industry, shall become
much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in
my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which
might have a tendency to accelerate that happy period."

Perhaps, if he could have made a thorough campaign and extended his
acquaintance and popularity throughout the county, he might have been
elected, but just a month after his announcement was published he went
off to the Black Hawk War (as is told in Chapter VI.) and did not
return until a few days before the election, so that his canvass was
limited. It was long enough, however, for him to make a record as a
man of moral courage and ability. Although the great majority of the
population were Democrats, he boldly declared himself a Whig, which must
have cost him many votes. National issues were not usually brought into
local politics, but the contest between Clay and Jackson was animated
and bitter; the Democrats were despotic and intolerant towards the
opposition, and were so much in the majority that a Whig had very little
consideration. Lincoln has left us a brief account of the campaign, in
which he says that he ran as "an avowed Clay man," and in his speeches
advocated the principles and policy of Henry Clay's platform. "I am
in favor of a national bank; I am in favor of an internal improvement
system and a high protective tariff," he announced boldly, and it must
have cost him a severe struggle with his ambition to have placed himself
upon the unpopular side and to have joined a hopeless minority at the
beginning of his political career; but he obeyed his convictions, and
nothing better illustrates the stuff of which the man was made.

The returns show that out of 2168 votes Lincoln received only 657, less
than one-third of the whole. In New Salem, where he lived, he received
all but three of the votes cast, although a few months later Andrew
Jackson carried the same precinct with 185 votes against 70 for Henry

This was the only time that Abraham Lincoln was defeated on a direct
vote of the people. He was greatly gratified by the evidence of his
popularity, and was confident that if he could extend his acquaintance
through the county he would be successful at the next election; but
how was he to get a living in the mean time? Offutt's store had failed
and he was out of employment. He describes the situation himself as
follows: "He was now without means and out of business, but was anxious
to remain with his friends, who had treated him with so much generosity,
especially as he had nothing elsewhere to go to. He studied what he
should do; thought of learning the blacksmith trade, thought of trying
to study law, rather thought he could not succeed at that without a
better education."

It was a crisis in his life, but he was conscious of his own ability
and his faith in himself was strong. If his judgment had been equally
accurate, he would have been saved great anxiety and trouble, for it was
at this time that he was induced to go into the mercantile speculation
which turned out so badly. He managed to make a living, however, and
pull through, and when the campaign of 1834 came it was a matter of
course that he should again be a candidate for the Legislature. He spent
almost the entire summer electioneering, most of the time in those parts
of the county where he was least acquainted, appealing for votes in his
own peculiar way. It was a rough-and-tumble canvass, often in company
with other candidates. "Wherever he saw a crowd of men, he joined them,
and he never failed to adapt himself to their point of view in asking
for votes," says one of his friends. "If the degree of physical strength
was their test for a candidate, he was ready to lift a weight or wrestle
with any countryside champion. If the amount of grain a man could cut
would recommend him, he seized the cradle and showed the swath he could
cut." One of the farmers of the neighborhood tells this story:

"He [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

Thirteen candidates were contesting for the four seats in the
Legislature and all were engaged in the campaign, besides candidates for
Governor, for Congress, and for the State Senate. When the votes were
counted, Lincoln's name headed the list. He received 1376, considerably
more than a majority, and more than double the total he had received at
the election two years before.

At this point Lincoln's political career actually begins, and although
during his first session in the Legislature he showed no particular
talent and took a modest position in the background, he secured the
respect of his colleagues both for his abilities and his character, and
among them were several men who afterwards became almost as prominent
as himself. They included future governors, generals, senators, judges,
and cabinet ministers. In this and future sessions of the Legislature
he sat beside Stephen A. Douglas, afterwards United States Senator and
Democratic candidate for the Presidency against Lincoln; Edward D.
Baker, Senator from both Illinois and Oregon, who was killed at the
battle of Ball's Bluff; Orville H. Browning, afterwards United States
Senator and Secretary of the Interior; John A. McClernand, for several
years a member of the House of Representatives and a major-general in
the Civil War; John Logan, father of the late General John A. Logan;
Robert M. Cullom, father of Senator Shelby M. Cullom, and others of
comparative distinction. These were new associates for the poor young
man, and more to his taste as well as his advantage. From this time he
cultivated men from whom he could learn, but never lost his affection
for those who had shared his humble hardships. He was re-elected to
the Legislature four successive terms, in 1836, 1838, and 1840, and
spent eight years in the service of his State, making many mistakes and
enjoying several triumphs, growing in the esteem and confidence of the
people, extending his usefulness and influence, and gradually advancing
to a high place among the leaders of the Whig party, which was rapidly
gaining in strength.

Among the interesting features of Lincoln's legislative career is a
declaration in favor of a limited woman suffrage which appeared in his
"handbill" in the campaign of 1836, when he was twenty-seven years old
and unmarried.

"I go for all sharing the privileges of the government who assist in
bearing its burdens," he said; "consequently I go for admitting all
whites to the right of suffrage who pay taxes or bear arms, by no means
excluding females."

The Legislature of 1836 and 1837 was responsible for many "wild-cat"
schemes which brought disaster upon the people of the young State,
and Lincoln was guilty of the same folly and lack of judgment which
characterized his associates. It should be said, however, that he was
enthusiastically supported by his constituents and public opinion
generally, and believed that he was doing the best that could be done
for the community.

His greatest triumph was won as the leader of the movement to remove the
State capital from Vandalia to Springfield. Being given the management
of the bill, he applied all his energy and ability to the task, here
showing the same strategic genius which was afterwards demonstrated
in the management of the war. His plan of campaign was simple but
shrewd. He first persuaded the Legislature to pass a bill removing the
capital from Vandalia, then he secured a succession of votes upon other
locations, and finally succeeded in carrying a direct vote in favor of
Springfield, which was accomplished by his personal influence. Jesse
K. Dubois, who represented another part of the State, says, "We gave
the vote to Lincoln because we liked him, because we wanted to oblige
him, our friend, and because we wanted to recognize him as our leader,"
which is a great tribute considering the fact that the delegation from
Sangamon County was an unusually strong one. It was famous for the
stature of its nine members, which, combined, was fifty-five feet. The
delegation was known as "the Long Nine."

When the law was signed the citizens of Springfield tendered a banquet
to their representatives, and among the toasts was this:

"Abraham Lincoln: one of Nature's noblemen; he has fulfilled the
expectations of his friends and disappointed the hopes of his enemies."

In 1838 and again in 1840 Lincoln was the Whig candidate for Speaker
of the House of Representatives, which was the highest tribute his
colleagues could pay him and illustrates his rapid advancement in
influence. Nor did he take this leading position without rivalry. There
were strong men among the Whigs of Illinois even at that date. That
party represented the wealth, education, and culture of the State, as
the Republican party does to-day, while the masses of the people were
Democrats. Notwithstanding this rivalry, he pushed rapidly forward, and
the qualities which he had shown from the beginning of his political
career were strengthened by experience, knowledge, and self-confidence.
His kindly disposition and good-nature, his wit and his stories, his
willingness to accept any responsibility that might be thrust upon him
or undertake any duty, no matter how laborious or disagreeable, and his
determination to succeed in everything he attempted made him a leader;
while his skill in debate, in parliamentary tactics, and political
organization made his co-operation necessary to the success of any

Lincoln organized the Whig party in Illinois. Up to 1832 the convention
system was unknown. In that year it was introduced by the Democrats
and was denounced with great vigor by the Whigs, who declared it an
invention "intended to abridge the liberties of the people by depriving
individuals of the privilege of becoming candidates for office, and
depriving them of the right to vote for candidates of their own choice;"
nevertheless, all good Whigs, and Lincoln among them, immediately
recognized the advantages of the new plan. It concentrated the strength
of a party upon single candidates for offices instead of allowing
it to be scattered and wasted upon several who voluntarily offered
themselves. The "machine" organized by Jackson's supporters worked well;
Lincoln watched it closely, and although he was reluctant to accept the
principle, he was compelled to admit the advantage of the practice,
and prepared, at the request of his fellow-Whigs, a confidential
circular which formed the basis of a remarkably complete and effective
organization of the Whig party in the State.

In 1841, the year previous to his marriage, Lincoln was offered the Whig
nomination for Governor, but declined it. He also declined renomination
for the Legislature the following year, and became a candidate for
Congress. He did not wait to be invited, but sought the nomination and
managed his own canvass. He never believed in concealing his ambition;
he was never guilty of false modesty; he held that it was an honorable
aspiration, and acted accordingly; but, to his disappointment, Sangamon
County was instructed for his friend and colleague, Edward D. Baker. He
was the more sensitive because he, "a stranger, friendless, uneducated,
penniless boy, working on a flat-boat at ten dollars a month," he wrote
a friend, had "been put down here as the candidate of pride, wealth, and
aristocratic family distinction. Yet so, chiefly, it was. There was,
too, the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker is
a Campbellite, and therefore, as I suppose, with few exceptions, got all
that church. My wife has some relations in the Presbyterian churches and
some with the Episcopal churches; and therefore, wherever it would tell,
I was set down as either the one or the other, while it was everywhere
contended that no Christian ought to go for me, because I belonged to no
church, was suspected of being a deist, and had talked about fighting a
duel. With all these things Baker, of course, had nothing to do. Nor do
I complain of them. As to his own church going for him, I think that was
right enough, and as to the influences I have spoken of in the other,
though they were very strong, it would be grossly untrue and unjust to
charge that they acted upon them in a body, or were very near so. I only
mean that those influences levied a tax of a considerable per cent.
upon my strength throughout the religious community."

Lincoln was appointed a delegate to the Convention and instructed to
look after Baker's interests. This, he said, "was a good deal like
acting as bridegroom for a man who has cut you out;" but he was loyal
and energetic and as skilful as usual, although unsuccessful. J. M.
Ruggles, one of the delegates, says, "The ayes and noes had been taken
and there were fifteen votes apiece, and one in doubt that had not
arrived. That was myself. I was known to be a warm friend of Baker,
representing people who were partial to Hardin. As soon as I arrived
Baker hurried to me, saying, 'How is it? It all depends on you.' On
being told that, notwithstanding my partiality for him, the people
I represented expected me to vote for Hardin, and that I would have
to do so, Baker at once replied, 'You are right--there is no other
way.' The Convention was organized, and I was elected secretary. Baker
immediately arose and made a most thrilling address, thoroughly arousing
the sympathies of the Convention, and ended by declining his candidacy.
Hardin was nominated by acclamation and then came the episode.

"Immediately after the nomination, Mr. Lincoln walked across the room
to my table and asked if I would favor a resolution recommending Baker
for the next term. On being answered in the affirmative, he said, 'You
prepare the resolution, I will support it, and I think we can pass it.'
The resolution created a profound sensation, especially with the friends
of Hardin. After an excited and angry discussion, the resolution passed
by a majority of one."

Thus Lincoln defeated his own prospects for a Congressional nomination
for four years. Baker was elected in 1844, and then his turn came in
1846, when the Democrats gave him for a competitor the famous Methodist
circuit rider, Peter Cartwright, one of the best-known and beloved men
of that period on the frontier. He was the highest type of the itinerant
preacher. For sixty years he travelled on horseback throughout the
Western country, marrying the young people, baptizing their children,
burying the dead, preaching by the wayside and in the forests, and
when he died in 1872, at eighty-seven years of age, the record of his
ministry showed that he had admitted to the church twelve thousand
persons, had preached fifteen thousand sermons, and a procession of one
hundred and twenty-nine children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren
followed him to his grave. With all his piety and devotion to the
Methodist Church, Peter Cartwright was an ardent admirer of Andrew
Jackson and a Democrat of the most intolerant pro-slavery type. He
probably had a larger acquaintance than any other man in the State, was
an exhorter of magnetic intensity, and his energy was unsurpassed; but,
nevertheless, Lincoln defeated him by 1511 majority when Henry Clay
carried the district by only 914.

When the Thirtieth Congress was called to order on December 6, 1847,
Abraham Lincoln answered to his name. The rolls also bore the name of
Stephen A. Douglas, but before the House of Representatives met he had
been elected to the United States Senate. Lincoln was the only Whig
member from Illinois. In those days the House met in the old Hall of
Representatives, now used for statuary, and he was so unfortunate as to
draw one of the most undesirable seats far in the background. He was
assigned to the Committee on Post-Offices and Post-Roads, at the foot of
the list, attended its meetings regularly, and occasionally took part
in the debates on the bills appropriating money for the support of the
postal service and other matters pertaining to that committee. He also
was a member of the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department,
which, however, never met. He devoted a good deal of time trying to
secure amendments to the laws relating to bounty lands for soldiers,
a subject of which he had some personal knowledge, having himself
received a patent for some wild land in Iowa. He looked after certain
grants of land made to railroads in Illinois, and endeavored to protect
actual settlers who might possibly have been interfered with. During his
first session he made the personal acquaintance of but few members, and
lived at a quiet Congressional boarding-house kept by a Mrs. Sprigg, on
Capitol Hill, where his messmates were Joshua R. Giddings, of Ohio, and
several other Whigs. His favorite place of resort was the post-office
of the House of Representatives, where he was in the habit of meeting
and exchanging stories with several congenial spirits. Among them
were Robert Toombs and Alexander H. Stephens, who, like himself, were
destined to become conspicuous figures in the great impending drama.
Several writers have described encounters between Lincoln and Jefferson
Davis at this period, but they were imaginary. Although Mr. Davis was
appointed to the Senate the same year, it is not probable that he ever
met the obscure member of the Lower House from Illinois.

From the recollections of his colleagues we have many incidents and
anecdotes of more or less interest, which show that he retained the same
unassuming, simple habits that characterized him as a member of the

Daniel Webster, who was then in the Senate, used occasionally to have
Lincoln at one of his pleasant Saturday breakfasts, where the Western
Congressman's humorous illustrations of the events of the day, sparkling
with spontaneous and unpremeditated wit, would give great delight
to "the solid men of Boston" assembled around the festive board. At
one time Lincoln had transacted some legal business for Mr. Webster
connected with an embryo city laid out where Rock River empties into the
Mississippi. Mr. Fletcher Webster had gone there for a while; but Rock
Island City was not a pecuniary success, and much of the land on which
but one payment had been made reverted to the original owners. Lincoln
had charged Mr. Webster for his legal services ten dollars, which the
great expounder of the Constitution regarded as too small a fee, and he
would frequently declare that he was still Lincoln's debtor.

The librarian of the United States Supreme Court remembers that Lincoln
came to the library one day for the purpose of procuring some law-books
which he wanted to take to his room for examination. He placed them in a
pile on the table, tied them up with a large bandanna handkerchief from
his pocket, and, putting a stick which he had brought with him through a
knot in the handkerchief, shouldered his burden and marched off to his
room. In a few days he returned the books in the same way.

He saw very little of the social life of the capital, although Mrs.
Lincoln was with him during the long session. His experience was similar
to that of the average green Congressman who comes to Washington
unheralded and who is compelled to live on his salary. The only social
adventure of which we have any knowledge was in attending the inaugural
ball, March 4, 1849, of which Mr. E. B. Washburne writes,--

"A small number of mutual friends, including Mr. Lincoln, made up a
party to attend Taylor's inauguration ball together. It was by far the
most brilliant inauguration ball ever given. Of course Mr. Lincoln had
never seen anything of the kind before. One of the most modest and
unpretending persons present, he could not have dreamed that like honors
were to come to him almost within a little more than a decade. He was
greatly interested in all that was to be seen, and we did not take our
departure until three or four o'clock in the morning. When we went to
the cloak and hat room, Mr. Lincoln had no trouble in finding his short
coat, which little more than covered his shoulders, but after a long
search was unable to find his hat. After an hour he gave up all idea of
finding it. Taking his cloak on his arm, he walked out into Judiciary
Square, deliberately adjusted it on his shoulders, and started off
bareheaded for his lodgings. It would be hard to forget the sight of
that tall and slim man, with his short cloak thrown over his shoulders,
starting for his long walk home on Capitol Hill, at four o'clock in the
morning, without any hat on."

After the election of President Taylor, in 1848, Lincoln, being the
only Whig member of Congress from Illinois, was required to recommend
candidates for office and practically controlled the patronage of the
State. He was not a civil service reformer. Even while he was President
he adhered to the time-honored doctrine that the victors in politics,
as in war, were entitled to the spoils, while at the same time he
endeavored to get the most efficient men available for the public
offices and recognized merit as the first claim for promotion. While in
Congress he performed his duty with absolute fairness to his political
foes and with loyalty to his political friends so far as he was able
to control appointments. Some of his recommendations are unique, for

"I recommend that William Butler be appointed Pension Agent for the
Illinois agency when the place shall be vacant. Mr. Hurst, the present
incumbent, I believe has performed his duties very well. He is a decided
partisan, and I believe expects to be removed. Whether he shall be, I
submit to the Department. This office is not confined to my district,
but pertains to the whole State; so that Colonel Baker has an equal
right with myself to be heard concerning it. However, the office is
located here (at Springfield), and I think it is not probable that any
one would desire to remove from a distance to take it."

In another instance he writes the Secretary of Interior, "I recommend
that Walter Davis be appointed Receiver of the Land Office at this
place, whenever there shall be a vacancy. I cannot say that Mr. Herndon,
the present incumbent, has failed in the proper discharge of any of the
duties of the office. He is a warm partisan, and openly and actively
opposed to the election of General Taylor. I also understand that since
General Taylor's election he has received a reappointment from Mr. Polk,
his old commission not having expired. Whether this is true the records
of the Department will show. I may add that the Whigs here almost
universally desire his removal."

In another case he forwards the recommendations of the man whom he does
not prefer, with an endorsement calling attention to the importance of
the writers, and adding, "From personal knowledge I consider Mr. Bond
every way worthy of the office and qualified to fill it. Holding the
individual opinion that the appointment of a different gentleman would
be better, I ask especial attention and consideration of his claims, and
for the opinions expressed in his favor by those over whom I can claim
no superiority."

In all his communications to the Executive Department concerning
appointments to office, he never claims a place because of his position
and influence; nor does he demand patronage on behalf of his party or
his State; nor does he ask for the removal of an incumbent, although in
several cases he says that it is desired by the public and the patrons
of the office. He always puts himself in the position of an adviser
to the government, and modestly expresses his opinion as to the best
man for appointment. If there are two candidates, he describes their
qualifications with evident candor and fairness.

Lincoln was tendered the Governorship of Oregon, and might have been
Commissioner of the General Land Office under President Taylor, but,
fortunately, resisted the temptation.

Amos Tuck, of New Hampshire, in his memoirs, says, "In December, 1847,
I made my first visit to Washington, and at the same time took my
seat as a member of the House of Representatives. The representation
of New Hampshire was equally divided, or rather was half Democratic,
Messrs. Peaslee and Johnson, and half opposition, Mr. Wilson, Whig,
and myself, Independent Democrat. It was the second Congress in Mr.
Polk's administration, and the Mexican War was at its height. Robert C.
Winthrop was Speaker.

"The most distinguished man by far, member of the House, was John
Quincy Adams. By general consent he had for years occupied the seat of
his choice, one of the two largest on the floor, in the second row of
seats, the first fronting the Speaker at the left. New members were
anxious to see Mr. Adams, the honored ex-President, politically the
most distinguished man of the country. He was old and feeble, but clear
in mind and decided in all his views as he had been in the days of his
vigor. He made one short speech early in the session, but could be heard
only by a few near him, and in the month of February following died in
the Speaker's room at the Capitol.

"I was late in arriving.... In the fourth seat at my left sat a new
member from Illinois, the only Whig from that State, a tall, awkward,
genial, good fellow, the future President of the United States, Abraham
Lincoln. He was then thirty-nine years old, bore all the signs of scanty
preparation for influential position, and excited attention only as the
lone star of Illinois Whigs and as an agreeable specimen of frontier
character. He was not regarded as a man of mark, nor did the thought
seem to have entered his own mind of ever taking a high position in the
country. Mr. Lincoln had no opportunity, if he had then had the ability,
which I do not think he possessed at that time, of distinguishing
himself. I remember that the good-will of his acquaintances was strong
in his favor. He made one set speech, near the close of the session,
wherein he made sundry telling points against the Democrats, delivering
it in the open area in front of the clerk's desk, and created much
amusement by the aptness of his illustrations, walking around in
front of the Democratic members, singling out individuals specially
responsible for unsound and inconsistent doctrines. He was good-natured,
enjoyed his own wit, heartily joined in the amusement he excited in
others, and sat down amid the cheers of his friends. The friendship
formed between Mr. Lincoln and myself in that Congress continued through
his life. Alexander H. Stephens and Robert Toombs, of Georgia, were
likewise members of the Thirtieth Congress, as they had been of the
previous Congress. They were both Whigs, the leading men in the House
of their party in the South, but more wedded to slave interests than to
their political party."

His term in Congress ended on March 4, 1849, and he was not a candidate
for re-election. A year before he had contemplated the possibility of
entering the field again. He then wrote to his friend and partner,
Herndon, "It is very pleasant for me to learn from you that there are
some who desire that I should be re-elected. I made the declaration that
I would not be a candidate again, more from a wish to deal fairly with
others, to keep peace among our friends, and keep the district from
going to the enemy, than for any cause personal to myself, so that, if
it should so happen that nobody else wishes to be elected, I could not
refuse the people the right of sending me again. But to enter myself as
a competitor of others, or to authorize any one so to enter me, is what
my word and honor forbid."

Upon returning from Congress in the spring of 1849, Lincoln renewed
his law practice and devoted himself exclusively to it, taking no part
in politics and having all that he could do in court until there was a
great upheaval in the political situation caused by the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise. This so aroused his patriotism and indignation
against the Democratic party that he went back to the stump and the
committee-room and again became the recognized leader of the Whig party
in Illinois. All through Illinois and other States in the neighborhood
the Whig politicians turned to him for counsel, which was due to his
reputation for wisdom and sagacity. It has been said that Lincoln
intended to retire from politics, and he wrote a friend that he "had
lost interest until the repeal of the Missouri Compromise;" but his
ambition as well as his interest soon revived, for we find him in 1854
the most prominent candidate of the Whig party for the United States

There was an exciting canvass of the State. He entered into it with
great enthusiasm, spoke in nearly every county, and it was agreed
by all concerned that if the Republican and Anti-Nebraska Democrats
should carry the Legislature, Lincoln would be elected to succeed
General Shields. He expected it himself, and his defeat brought him
more disappointment and chagrin than any other event in his life. It
was a painful experience, but he accepted the result with his usual
good-nature and philosophy, and his conduct under the most trying
circumstances added lustre to his reputation as a patriotic, honorable,
unselfish man, and he never forgot his obligation to those who stood by
him in the contest.

With his usual candor, he had addressed letters to the Whigs and
Anti-Nebraska men who had been elected to the Legislature, asking their
support. The replies were almost without exception favorable and in some
cases enthusiastic. He was personally known to almost every member, and
by his voice and advice had assisted all the Whig candidates during the
campaign. But, unfortunately, a complication arose which embarrassed
them and him. He had been elected as one of the members from Sangamon
County, and the Constitution of the State contained a clause making
members of the Legislature and other officials ineligible to the United
States Senate. The highest authorities pronounced this provision
unconstitutional because the Senate alone was authorized to decide
the qualifications of its own members and a State Legislature had no
jurisdiction over the subject; but, rather than run the risk of taking
the election into the courts, Lincoln decided to resign, relying upon
the majority of 650 votes, which had been cast for him, to elect another
Whig in his place. Very little interest was taken in the canvass. The
Democrats appeared inclined to let the contest go by default. That
disarmed the leaders of the Whig party and made the rank and file
indifferent. For the first and only time in his political career Lincoln
was caught napping. The Democrats nominated a candidate at the very last
moment, plunged into a hasty but energetic canvass, got out a full vote,
and elected his successor by 60 majority, which lost the Legislature
to the Whigs and left them dependant upon their Free-Soil Democratic
allies. The members of that party in other parts of the State were very
indignant and blamed Lincoln for this unlooked-for result.

He was still further embarrassed by the unauthorized and impertinent
act of a small group of abolitionists who met in Springfield before
the session of the Legislature, passed resolutions endorsing Lincoln
as their candidate for the Senate, and, without consulting him,
appointed him a member of their State Central Committee. There were only
twenty-six in the assembly,--earnest, eager men, and radical in their
views,--and although Lincoln's policy of recognizing the constitutional
authority for slavery was well known to them, they admired his ability
and the able fight he was making against the extension of the system in
the Territories. He was not aware that his name appeared in the list of
the abolitionist committee until several weeks after the Convention had
adjourned. In fact, very little notice was taken of its meetings, and
its action was discovered by the Democrats before it was known to the
Whigs. Lincoln immediately wrote a letter declining to serve and saying
that he was perplexed to understand why his name was used, because
he supposed that his position on the slavery question was not at all
satisfactory to their party. But, notwithstanding his disavowal, five
Anti-Nebraska Democrats refused under any circumstances to support him
for Senator, but cast their votes for Lyman Trumbull. Lincoln was voted
for by the other Free-Soilers and Shields by the Democrats. In a letter
to Mr. Washburne, written on the evening after the election, Lincoln
gives this description of the close of the fight:

"In the mean time our friends, with a view of detaining our expected
bolters, had been turning from me to Trumbull until he had risen to 35
and I had been reduced to 15. These would never desert me except by my
direction; but I became satisfied that if we could prevent Matteson's
election one or two ballots more, we could possibly not do so a single
ballot after my friends should begin to return to me from Trumbull. So
I determined to strike at once; and accordingly advised my remaining
friends to go for him, which they did, and elected him on that, the
tenth ballot. Such is the way the thing was done. I think you would
have done the same under the circumstances, though Judge Davis, who
came down this morning, declares he never would have consented to the
47 (opposition) men being controlled by the 5. I regret my defeat
moderately, but am not nervous about it. Perhaps it is well for our
grand cause that Trumbull is elected."

And it turned out well for Lincoln, too, because if he had been elected
Senator at that time he would never have taken the part he did in the
organization of the Republican party, he would never have had the joint
debate with Senator Douglas, and in all probability would not have been
elected President. Lincoln resumed the practice of his profession,
but did not retire from politics again. He took an active interest in
every campaign, devoting much of his time to committee work and to
the preparation of political literature, extending his acquaintance
and increasing his popularity. In the winter of 1855 he attended a
meeting of Free-Soil editors at Decatur, who decided upon organizing a
Republican party in Illinois and called a convention of all who believed
in resisting the extension of slavery to meet at Bloomington in May.

Lincoln was present, made a remarkable speech, which is described in
Chapter III., was sent as a delegate to the First National Republican
Convention at Philadelphia, and, much to his surprise, received 110
votes for Vice-President on the ticket with Frémont. He was made an
elector, canvassed the State thoroughly, making more than fifty set
speeches during the campaign, and served as a member of the State

Mr. Horace White, editor of the _New York Evening Post_, then connected
with the _Chicago Tribune_, gives his recollections of Lincoln in the
campaign: "I was Secretary of the Republican State Committee of Illinois
during some years when he was in active campaign work. He was often
present at meetings of the committee, and took part in the committee
work. His judgment was very much deferred to in such matters. He was one
of the shrewdest politicians in the State. Nobody had more experience
in that way, nobody knew better than he what was passing in the minds
of the people. Nobody knew better how to turn things to advantage
politically, and nobody was readier to take such advantage, provided
it did not involve dishonorable means. He could not cheat people out
of their votes any more than he could out of their money. Mr. Lincoln
never gave his assent, so far as my knowledge goes, to any plan or
project for getting votes that would not have borne the full light of

"I never heard him express contempt for any man's honest errors,
although he would sometimes make a droll remark or tell a funny story
about them. Deference to other people's opinions was habitual to him.
There was no calculation, no politics in it. It was part and parcel of
his sense of equal rights. His democracy was of the unconscious kind--he
did not know anything different from it."

In the fall of 1858 there was an election of the Illinois Legislature
which would choose a successor to Senator Douglas, whose term of service
was to expire March 3, 1859. The Republican party at that time was
thoroughly organized and presented a united and enthusiastic front, with
encouraging prospects of victory, and Lincoln was again its candidate
for the United States Senate. The sympathy of his associates and the
people generally over his defeat three years before, their appreciation
of his services, their admiration for his ability, and their confidence
in his integrity and judgment made him the unanimous choice, and for
the first time in history the State Republican Convention passed a
resolution to that effect. Then followed the most extraordinary canvass
that has ever taken place in any of the States of the Union,--the
joint debate between Lincoln and Douglas which is described in Chapter
III., followed by Lincoln's second defeat for the Senate. Many of
Lincoln's friends believed that he might have been elected but for the
interference of Horace Greeley, Seward, Colfax, Burlingame, and other
earnest Republicans and antislavery men of national prominence, who
urged the people of Illinois to support Douglas because he had opposed
the Buchanan administration and had been denounced by the slave-holders
of the South. But, while Lincoln was deeply wounded by this betrayal
of what he considered a vital political principle, he realized that
the existing apportionment of the State made his election improbable
because it had been based upon the census of 1850 and gave the southern
and Democratic counties an excessive representation over the northern
Republican counties, which had more rapidly increased in population. The
Republican State officers were chosen by a considerable majority, but
the Democrats had eight majority in the Legislature, and Mr. Douglas was

Lincoln had passed through an intense canvass, equally trying to
his physical and mental endurance, and his strength as well as his
temper were sorely tried; but he was never more composed, patient,
and philosophical, and to his friends he wrote hopeful and cheerful
letters, taking greater satisfaction in the reputation he had made and
the results he had accomplished than he would have felt in a commission
as United States Senator. As he told many people, he was not trying to
defeat Douglas for Senator so much as to prevent his election to the
Presidency, and he succeeded in doing so. The attention of the entire
country had been drawn to the canvass in Illinois, Lincoln's name had
become known everywhere throughout the country, and, as a Chicago editor
wrote him, "You have at once sprung from the position of a capital
fellow and a leading lawyer of Illinois to a national reputation."

Another friend wrote him, "You have made a noble canvass, which, if
unavailing in this State, has earned you a national reputation and made
you friends everywhere."

Lincoln's own view of the case is expressed in a letter to a friend as
follows: "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."

The folly of the Eastern Republicans in encouraging the election of
Douglas was demonstrated immediately after the election, when that
gentleman started upon a tour through the South and made a series of
speeches in which he endeavored to convince the slave-holders that he
was their best friend and should be their candidate for the Presidency.
At the same time Lincoln was invited to speak in the Eastern States,
and, after his address in Cooper Institute, New York City, made a
tour through New England, creating great interest and making many
friends. He became a national character, and his advice was sought by
national leaders, to whom his sagacity was immediately apparent. He
spent a great deal of time and wrote many letters during the winter of
1858-59, harmonizing the Republican party, concentrating its efforts,
and reconciling local prejudices and preferences which conflicted
and imperilled its success at the next election. He seemed gifted
with foresight that was almost prophetic, for he pointed out with
extraordinary accuracy the probable policy which would be pursued by the
Democrats, and his suggestions as to the best means for the Republicans
to adopt were broad, wise, and statesmanlike. For example, referring
to a provision adopted by Massachusetts to restrict naturalization, he
wrote, "Massachusetts is a sovereign and independent State, and it is no
privilege of mine to scold her for what she does. Still, if from what
she has done an inference is sought to be drawn as to what I would do, I
may, without impropriety, speak out. I say, then, that, as I understand
the Massachusetts provision, I am against its adoption in Illinois, or
in any other place where I have a right to oppose it. Understanding the
spirit of our institutions to aid at the elevation of men, I am opposed
to whatever tends to degrade them. I have some little notoriety for
commiserating the oppressed condition of the negro; and I should be
strangely inconsistent if I could favor any project for curtailing the
existing rights of white men, even though born in different lands and
speaking different languages from myself."

He wrote from Springfield to Schuyler Colfax (afterwards Vice-President
of the United States), July 6, 1859, "Besides a strong desire to make
your personal acquaintance, I was anxious to speak with you on politics
a little more fully than I can well do in a letter. My main object in
such conversation would be to hedge against divisions in the Republican
ranks generally, and particularly for the contest of 1860. The point
of danger is the temptation in different localities to 'platform' for
something which will be popular just there, but which, nevertheless,
will be a firebrand elsewhere, and especially in a national convention.
As instances, the movement against foreigners in Massachusetts; in
New Hampshire, to make obedience to the fugitive-slave law punishable
as a crime; in Ohio, to repeal the fugitive-slave law; and squatter
sovereignty in Kansas. In these things there is explosive matter enough
to blow up half a dozen national conventions, if it gets into them; and
what gets very rife outside of conventions is very likely to find its
way into them."

The idea of making Lincoln a Presidential candidate seems to have
occurred to a great many people at about the same time, and shortly
after his inauguration a regiment might have been organized of the
friends who first named him. There are, however, some letters preserved
which show that the suggestion had been made to him early in 1859, long
before the Cooper Institute address; indeed, immediately after the close
of the Senatorial fight in 1858 an editorial friend in Illinois wrote
him as follows: "I would like to have a talk with you on political
matters, as to the policy of announcing your name for the Presidency,
while you are in our city. My partner and myself are about addressing
the Republican editors of the State on the subject of a simultaneous
announcement of your name for the Presidency."

To this Lincoln replied, "As to the other matter you kindly mention, I
must in candor say that I do not think myself fit for the Presidency. I
certainly am flattered and gratified that some partial friends think of
me in that connection; but I really think it best for our cause that no
concerted effort, such as you suggest, should be made."

It would seem from other remarks made at the time that he was planning
another fight with Douglas and had the patience to wait six years to
renew the contest. He wrote several friends that he intended to fight
in the ranks, and declined to be a candidate for the Senate against
Trumbull; but while he was writing those letters, about January 1, 1860,
there was a conference at Springfield of the Republican leaders of
the State, said to have been called by Mr. Norman B. Judd, at which a
serious and organized effort was begun to secure his nomination. One of
the gentlemen present says, "We asked him if his name might be used in
connection with the nomination. With characteristic modesty, he doubted
whether he could get the nomination even if he wished it, and asked
until the next morning to answer us whether his name might be announced.
The next day he authorized us, if we thought proper to do so, 'to place
him in the field.' In answer to a question whether he would accept a
nomination for Vice-President if he could not be put on the first place
on the ticket, he replied that if his name were used for the office of
President he would not permit it to be used for any other office, no
matter how honorable it might be."

From this time Lincoln exerted every proper means to secure success. He
did not repose idly in his Springfield office and allow his friends to
do the work, but was quite as active and vigilant in his own behalf
as any of his supporters, and managed the campaign himself. He had
no funds, however, no literary bureau, no head-quarters or personal
organization; nearly every letter he sent out on the subject was written
with his own hand, and he used plain and characteristic language asking
for the support of his friends in Illinois and other States. Whether
his intention was to disarm jealousy, or whether he actually believed
that his nomination was impossible, he intimated to several of his
correspondents that he desired to make a brave show at the Chicago
Convention because of the prestige it would give him in his future
fight for the Senate. And to another he wrote, "I am not in a position
where it would hurt much for me not to be nominated on the national
ticket, but I am where it would hurt some for me not to get the Illinois

He even sent money from his own small means to pay the expenses of
friends who were working in his interest. On March 10, 1860, he wrote to
a gentleman in Kansas, "Allow me to say that I cannot enter the ring on
the money basis,--first, because in the main it is wrong; and secondly,
I have not and cannot get the money. I say in the main the use of money
is wrong, but for certain objects in a political contest is both right
and indispensable. With me, as with yourself, this long struggle has
been one of great pecuniary loss. I now distinctly say this; if you
shall be appointed a delegate to Chicago I will furnish one hundred
dollars to bear the expense of the trip."

Nevertheless, Kansas instructed her delegation for Seward, whereupon
Lincoln wrote a consoling letter to his friends and said, "Don't stir
them up to anger, but come along to the Convention and I will do as I
said about expenses." There is nothing to show whether the offer was
accepted, but, with his usual gratitude for favors received or intended,
he appointed his Kansas friend to a lucrative office within ten days
after his inauguration, and frequently consulted him about the patronage
in that State.

The Illinois State Convention gave Lincoln a hearty endorsement and sent
an enthusiastic delegation to Chicago composed of personal friends of
great ability, political experience, and personal influence, and by a
combination with Chase from Ohio, Cameron from Pennsylvania, Bates from
Missouri, and other anti-Seward candidates, he was nominated for the
office of President of the United States. The credit of his success was
claimed by many; several accounts of bargains have passed into history,
and other fictitious explanations for his nomination have been printed
from time to time, but we have the authority of David Davis, Norman B.
Judd, and other friends who were authorized to speak for him, as well
as his own testimony, that after the Convention adjourned he was free
from all obligations except the gratitude he was glad to offer to his


The tree in front of the house was planted by Lincoln]

The evening of the second day after the nomination brought to
Springfield a committee of notification composed of some of the most
distinguished men of that day and others who were destined to play a
conspicuous part in national affairs. George Ashmun, of Massachusetts,
was the chairman; Governor Boutwell, afterwards United States Senator
and Secretary of the Treasury; Samuel Bowles, editor of the _Springfield
Republican_; Carl Schurz, of Wisconsin; Gideon Welles, of Connecticut;
Amos Tuck, of New Hampshire; William M. Evarts and Governor Edwin D.
Morgan, of New York; "Pig-Iron" Kelley, of Pennsylvania; Francis P.
Blair, of Missouri; and others were of the party. Most of them were
disappointed at the result of the Convention and distrustful of the
strength and ability of the prairie lawyer as a candidate. He received
them, however, with simple dignity. They were invited to deliver their
message at his modest home, and appeared there a few moments after
their arrival in Springfield, to find him surrounded by his family and a
few intimate friends. They saw a man of unprepossessing appearance, with
long limbs, large hands and feet, stooping shoulders, coarse features,
and a shock of rebellious hair. He was the last man in the world,
perhaps, to judge by appearances, that this committee would have chosen
as a Presidential candidate; but when he began to speak in reply to Mr.
Ashmun, a change seemed to come over him. The rugged face and awkward
figure were transformed, and the members of the committee recognized at
once that they were in the presence of a man who was master of himself
and possessed a strength they had not suspected. And when they left
Springfield, almost without exception, they were convinced of the wisdom
of his nomination.

The opposing candidates prepared long letters of acceptance explanatory
of their views and defining their purposes, but Lincoln had already
recognized the wisdom of reticence, and the night of his nomination,
standing in his own doorway, he told his neighbors and friends who
called to congratulate him and demanded a speech that "the time comes
upon every man when it is best to keep his lips closed. That time has
come to me." Hence his letter of acceptance was the briefest ever
written by a Presidential candidate. After one formal introductory
phrase, it reads:

    "The declaration of principles which accompanies your letter
    meets my approval, and it shall be my care not to violate it
    or disregard it in any way or part. Imploring the assistance
    of Divine Providence, and with due regard for the views and
    feelings of all who were represented in the Convention, to
    the rights of all the States and Territories and people of
    the nation, to the inviolability of the Constitution, and
    the perpetual union of prosperity, and harmony of all, I am
    most happy to co-operate for the practical success of the
    principles declared by the convention. Your obliged friend and

        "A. LINCOLN."

This letter was not shown to any one of Lincoln's friends, with the
exception of Dr. Newton Bateman, State Superintendent of Education and
an intimate friend, to whom Lincoln said,--

"Mr. School-master, here is my letter of acceptance. And I wouldn't like
to have any mistakes in it. I am not very strong on grammar and I wish
you would see if it is all right."

Mr. Bateman suggested one change, so that it would read "it shall be my
care not to violate," instead of "it shall be my care to not violate."

"So you think I better put those two little fellows end to end, do you?"
replied Lincoln, taking his pen and making the change suggested.

Lincoln's nomination made very little difference in his daily life. He
turned his law practice over to his partner, employed John G. Nicolay, a
clerk in the office of the Secretary of State, as his private secretary,
was given the use of the Governor's room at the State-House for an
office, and devoted his entire time to the reception of visitors and
correspondence concerning the campaign. His door stood always open.
There was not even an usher. Everybody came and went as freely as when
he was a candidate for the Legislature or engaged in his practice.
He was the same Abraham Lincoln he had always been, except a little
more serious because of increasing responsibilities, and a little more
dignified because he was sensible of the honor that had been conferred
upon him; but his old friends detected no change in the man, and dropped
in to exchange gossip whenever they came to town. Distinguished visitors
came from a distance,--statesmen, politicians, wire-pullers, newspaper
correspondents, men with great purposes and ambitions, adventurers,
lion-hunters, and representatives of all classes and conditions, who
usually seek the acquaintance of influential and prominent men and
worship a rising sun. He told each a story and sent him away, pleased
with his person and impressed with his character. His correspondence had
increased enormously and every letter received a polite reply, but he
maintained his policy of reticence and gave no indication of his plans
or purposes.

One day, while a group of distinguished politicians from a distance were
sitting in the Governor's room, chatting with Lincoln, the door opened
and an old lady in a big sunbonnet and the garb of a farmer's wife came

"I wanted to give you something to take to Washington, Mr. Lincoln,"
she said, "and these are all I had. I spun the yarn and knit them socks
myself." And with an air of pride she handed him a pair of blue woollen

Lincoln thanked her cordially for her thoughtfulness, inquired after the
folks at home, and escorted her to the door as politely as if she had
been Queen of England. Then, when he returned to the room, he picked up
the socks, held them by the toes, one in each hand, and with a queer
smile upon his face remarked to the statesmen around him,--

"The old lady got my latitude and longitude about right, didn't she?"

Such incidents occurred nearly every day and were a source of great
pleasure to the President, who was never happier than when in the
company of "the plain people," as he called them.

No one man of honest intentions visited him without feeling the better
for it and being impressed with his ability, his courage, and his
confidence. From the beginning he never doubted his own success. He
realized that the Democratic party was hopelessly split and that, while
the factions, if combined, might embrace a majority of the voters of
the country, the Republicans would have a plurality, and his reasoning
was so plausible that he convinced his visitors of the truth of his
convictions. He never showed the slightest annoyance at the attacks that
were continually made upon his reputation and record, and demonstrated
his coolness, self-poise, and wisdom by declining to defend himself
or offer explanations. His theory was expressed to a friend who wrote
him with great concern about a charge that had been made against his

"I have made this explanation to you as a friend," he wrote, "but I wish
no explanation made to our enemies. What they want is a squabble and a
fuss, and that they can have if we explain, and they cannot have it if
we don't."

The greater number of inquiries related to his position and intentions
towards slavery, and to every one he gave a similar answer, that he
had defined his position again and again in his speeches before his
nomination, and "Those who will not read or heed what I have already
publicly said would not read or heed a repetition of it. 'If they hear
not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one
rose from the dead.'"

He kept his finger upon the pulse of the country, and none of the
managers of either party was so well informed as to the situation and
sentiment in different sections as he. The Republican politicians soon
discovered this fact and came to him more and more for advice and
instruction. Even Thurlow Weed, who was supposed to be the shrewdest
politician in the country, recognized a master and sought counsel from
him regarding the management of the campaign in New York. Wherever he
detected a weak spot, he sent a word of warning and advice: wherever
there were local dissensions, he restored harmony with his tact and
good-nature. Thus was Lincoln the manager of his own campaign; more so,
perhaps, than any man who was ever elected President. But at the same
time he made one great mistake. He had heard the threat of secession so
long that he had grown indifferent to it, and he told everybody that
"The people of the South have too much sense to attempt the ruin of the

The election occurred on November 6, 1860, and the result was what he
had expected since his nomination. The Republican electors did not
receive a majority by nearly a million votes, but the division of the
Democrats left them a plurality.

The city of Springfield had never cast so large a vote for any candidate
for office up to that time, and it celebrated its triumph with a jubilee
of rejoicing. The people called Lincoln from his house and demanded a
speech, but he asked to be excused. He thanked them for their support
and congratulations, and remarked, "In all our rejoicing let us
neither express nor cherish any hard feeling towards any citizen who
has differed from us. Let us at all times remember that all American
citizens are brothers of a common country and should dwell together in
the bonds of fraternal feeling."

After the excitement had quieted down, Lincoln resumed his former habits
and daily routine. Springfield was crowded with politicians those
days,--office-seekers and advisers, men who came to ask favors and to
offer them. The announcement of his election had been the signal for
the conspirators in the South to throw off their masks. During long
years of controversy, the pro-slavery party had a hope of ultimate
triumph, but until the actual election of Lincoln there was no actual
treason or revolutionary act. Four days after the Senators from South
Carolina resigned, six weeks later that State declared its separation
from the Union and organized an independent government, and, while he
was still waiting at Springfield, Lincoln read the newspaper reports of
conventions in all the Gulf States, at which they also declared their
independence. But he was obliged to sit inactive and helpless; unable to
do anything to check the dissolution of the Union, although appeals came
from every quarter. He described his situation to an old friend who came
to see him at Springfield.

"Joe," he said, sadly, "I suppose you have forgotten the trial down in
Montgomery County where your partner gave away your case in his opening
speech. I saw you motioning to him and how uneasy you were, but you
couldn't stop him, and that's just the way with Buchanan and me. He is
giving away the case and I can't stop him."

It was not the Republicans of the North alone that appealed to Lincoln.
Unionists of the South came to him for pledges that he would do nothing,
for assurances that there was nothing to fear from his election, and he
went so far as to make an exception in their case to gratify them. In
December he wrote a letter to Alexander H. Stephens, whom he had known
and admired in Congress, marked "For your eye only," in which he stated
his position in the most positive and unmistakable language, and asked,
"Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican
administration would directly or indirectly interfere with the slaves?
If they do, I wish to assure you as once a friend, and still, I hope,
not an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears. The South would be
in no more danger in this respect than it was in the days of Washington.
I suppose, however, that this does not meet the case. You think slavery
is right and ought to be extended, while we think it is wrong and ought
to be restricted. That, I suppose, is the rub. It is certainly the only
substantial difference between us."

General Duff Green came to Springfield in December, 1860, as an emissary
from President Buchanan to invite the President-elect to Washington
for a conference upon the situation, with the hope that his presence
there might prevent civil war, and General Green was bold enough to
tell him that, if he did not go, "upon his conscience must rest the
blood that would be shed." Here Lincoln's political shrewdness and
diplomacy were demonstrated in as conspicuous a manner, perhaps, as
at any other crisis in his life. He detected at once the intention to
unload upon him the responsibility for disunion and war, and met it
with a counter-proposition which must have excited the admiration of
the conspirators who were trying to entrap him. He received General
Green with great courtesy, heard him with respectful attention, and
gave him a letter in which he said that he did not desire any amendment
to the Constitution, although he recognized the right of the American
people to adopt one; that he believed in maintaining inviolate the
rights of each State to control its own domestic institutions; and
that he considered the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of
any State or Territory as the gravest of crimes. While those were his
sentiments, and while they indicated the policy he should pursue as
President, he would not consent to their publication unless the Senators
from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas would
sign a pledge which he had written below his signature to this letter
and upon the same piece of paper. It was a pledge "to suspend all
action for the dismemberment of the Union until some act deemed to be
violative of our rights shall be done by the incoming administration."
Thus the responsibility was thrown back upon the representatives of the
seceding States, and it is unnecessary to say that Duff Green's mission
to Springfield was not considered a success by the rebel leaders. In
order to protect himself, Lincoln sent a copy of his letter to Senator
Trumbull, calling his attention to the fact that part of its text and
all of its sentiment were copied from the Chicago platform.

By this time Lincoln had become thoroughly convinced that the Southern
leaders were in earnest and that nothing could prevent the secession
of their States, although he continued his efforts to reassure them
and to apply every means his ingenuity could suggest to reconcile them
to the situation. Notwithstanding all his anxiety, his sense of humor
remained, and, as was his habit, he illustrated the situation with a
story about a pious man named Brown who was on a committee to erect a
bridge over a very dangerous river. They called in an engineer named
Jones, who had great confidence in himself, and, after the difficulties
had been explained, asked him whether he was able to build the bridge.
Jones was a profane man, and replied that he would build a bridge to
hell if he could get a contract, or words to that effect. The churchmen
were horrified, and when the contractor retired, Brown attempted to
allay their indignation by saying all the good things he could remember
or invent about Jones. At the same time he was a very cautious man and
would not commit himself to any doubtful proposition.

"I know Jones," he said, "and he is a man who will keep his promises. If
he agrees to build a bridge to Hades he will do it, although I have my
doubts about the 'butments on the infernal side."

The infinite patience exhibited by Lincoln during this period of anxious
helplessness, amidst the clamors of office-seekers, the importunities of
sincere but timid men who besought him to yield to the South and avoid
trouble and bloodshed, the threats of his enemies, the intrigues of the
politicians, the conspiracies of the disunionists, showed his strength
of character and sense of discretion, and did much to establish him in
the confidence of the public. He indulged neither in hope nor fear, he
made no boasts, he showed no alarm, he answered neither yea nor nay, but
maintained complete self-control and waited for his time to come. To
intimate friends who possessed his confidence he never failed to assert
his determination to maintain the Union, no matter what it cost, and to
resist to the end every proposition for dissolution or dismemberment,
but his words were as gentle and as kindly as they were firm.

"The right of a State to secede is not an open or debatable question,"
he said. "That was fully discussed in Jackson's time and denied not
only by him but by the vote of Congress. It is the duty of a President
to execute the laws and maintain the existing government. He cannot
entertain any proposition for dissolution or dismemberment. He was not
elected for any such purpose. As a matter of theoretical speculation it
is probably true that if the people, with whom the whole question rests,
should become tired of the present government they might change it in
the manner prescribed by the Constitution."

At the same time, without being dictatorial, he kept the Republican
leaders inspired with his own confidence and determination and
endeavored to prevent them from the mistake of yielding to compromise
or making concessions. He wrote Representative Washburne with emphasis,
"Prevent our friends from demoralizing themselves and their cause
by entertaining propositions for compromise of any sort on slavery
extensions. There is no possible compromise upon it but what puts us
under again, and all our work to do over again. On that point hold firm
as a chain of steel."

To Seward he wrote, "I say now, as I have all the while said, that
on the question of extending slavery I am inflexible. I am for no
compromise which assists or permits the extension of the institution on
soil owned by the nation."

He knew what was going on under the direction of the disloyal members
of Buchanan's Cabinet. He was aware that the Northern States were being
stripped of arms and ammunition and that large quantities of military
stores were being sent South where they could easily be seized when the
time came. He knew also that disloyal officers of the army were being
placed in command of the forts and military posts in the South, and
other strategical points, and he asked Washburne to present his respects
to General Scott, "and tell him confidentially that I should be obliged
to him to be as well prepared as he can either to hold or retake the
forts as the case may require after the inauguration."

Mr. Seward and other Republican leaders were apprehensive lest an
attempt be made to prevent the counting of the electoral vote and the
inauguration of Lincoln. The secessionists controlled both Houses and
could have prevented constitutional proceeding if they had chosen to do
so, but offered no interference. Mr. Seward always claimed--and he had
an excessive degree of admiration for his own acts--that a speech which
he made at the Astor House in January deceived the secession leaders
into permitting the vote to be canvassed and Lincoln inaugurated. "When
I made that speech the electoral vote was not counted," said Mr. Seward
with pride, "and I knew it never would be if Jeff Davis believed there
would be war. I had to deceive Davis and I did it. That's why I said it
would all be settled in sixty days."

The will of the people to make Abraham Lincoln President was carried
into effect upon February 13, 1861, when the Congress of the United
States met in joint session and declared him duly elected.

Mr. Seward and other Republican leaders had urged Lincoln to come to
Washington early in February, but the latter, with his usual judgment
and common sense, declined to depart from ordinary usage, and politely
explained his own feeling that he ought not to appear in Washington
until he had been formally declared President. When that formality had
been completed, he bade his old friends good-by and began a memorable
journey, taking a circuitous route in order to gratify the people of
the Northern States, who wished to see the President-elect, and gathered
at every station through which he passed, hoping to hear his voice
or catch a glimpse of his face. He made about thirty speeches on the
journey, and every time he spoke it was to stimulate the patriotism
and the determination of the people to preserve the Union. The address
delivered in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, was perhaps the most
notable, as it was the longest, because he was deeply moved by the date
and the place, for it was Washington's birthday. Among other things, he

"All the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I
have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated in
and were given to the world from this hall. I have never had a feeling,
politically, that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the
Declaration of Independence. It was that which gave promise that in
due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men and
that all should have an equal chance. Now, my friends, can this country
be saved on that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the
happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. If it cannot be
saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But if this country
cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say I
would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it. Now, in my
view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed and
war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course;
and I may say in advance that there will be no bloodshed unless it be
forced upon the government. The government will not use force unless
force is used against it.

"My friends, this is wholly an unprepared speech. I did not expect to
be called upon to say a word when I came here. I supposed it was merely
to do something towards raising a flag--I may, therefore, have said
something indiscreet. [Cries of 'No! no!'] But I have said nothing but
what I am willing to live by, and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty
God, to die by."

The manner in which Lincoln came into Washington has been the subject
of abundant discussion and criticism, but long ago the public mind
settled down to a mature opinion that he did exactly right, and that a
President-elect of the United States, particularly at such a critical
juncture, should not take any risks or omit any precautions for his
personal safety. Lincoln himself, long after, declared that he did not
then and never did believe that he would have been assassinated, but
always thought it wise to run no risk when no risk was necessary. Wisdom
justifies such a rule, while the tragic experience of the American
people has left no doubt of it. The facts were that an Italian barber
named Ferrandini, an outspoken secessionist working at a Baltimore
hotel, had submitted to an organization of Southern sympathizers a
wild plan for intimidating the Union people of Maryland and the North,
which included the blowing up of all the bridges around Washington, the
kidnapping of several prominent Republicans, and the assassination of
Lincoln, General Scott, and Hamlin, the President and Vice-President
elect. This would leave the capital open to the Southern leaders, throw
the entire government into confusion, and prevent interference from
the North with any revolutionary plans which Jefferson Davis might be

[Illustration: Copyright, 1900, by McClure, Phillips & Co.

    For Mrs. Lucy G. Speed, from whose pious hand I accepted the
    present of an Oxford Bible twenty years ago. Washington, D.C.
    October 3, 1861

        A. Lincoln.

From a photograph by Klauber, Louisville, Kentucky. Reproduced by
special permission of James B. Speed, Esq.]

Just how much encouragement Ferrandini received from the Southern
sympathizers in Baltimore and Washington is not known, but he was the
captain of a military company whose members were pledged to prevent
the inauguration of Lincoln or any abolitionist President. When Allan
Pinkerton learned of his suggestions, he reported the matter at once
to Mr. Felton, President of the railroad that connected Baltimore
with Philadelphia. Mr. Pinkerton's disclosures were confirmed by
detectives employed by Governor Hicks, of Maryland, and the military
authorities at Washington, although neither knew that the others were at
work on the case. After consultation with his friends, Lincoln decided
not to take any chances, and it was arranged that, after the ceremonies
at Harrisburg were concluded, he should return to Philadelphia with a
single companion and take the regular midnight train to Washington,
leaving the rest of his party to continue in the special train according
to the original itinerary. Lincoln wore no disguise, no deception was
practised upon any one, and the only unusual occurrence that night was
the disconnection of the telegraph wires just outside of Philadelphia
and Harrisburg, so that, in case the change of plan was discovered, the
news could not reach Baltimore until Lincoln had passed through that
city. Mr. Seward and Mr. Washburne were the only persons to meet the
President-elect at the station, and they had been advised of his coming
only a few hours before by Mr. Seward's son, who had come by a previous
train from Harrisburg.

The week before the inauguration was a busy one for the President-elect.
A great deal of his time was occupied by visits of ceremony and
consultations with Republican leaders about the composition of his
Cabinet, the terms of his inaugural, and the policy to be pursued by
the new administration. March 4 Mr. Buchanan escorted him from the
Executive Mansion to the Capitol, where the oath was administered to
him by Chief-Justice Taney, and, standing upon a platform at the east
portico of the unfinished Capitol, he was introduced to the multitude by
his old friend, Edward D. Baker, while Stephen A. Douglas, his opponent
for the Presidency, stood at his left hand and held his hat. The public
curiosity to see the President-elect reached its climax as he made his
appearance. All sorts of stories had been told and believed about his
personal appearance. His character had been grossly misrepresented and
maligned in both sections of the Union, and the hysterical condition
of the country naturally whetted the appetite of men of all parties to
see and hear the man who was now the central figure of the republic. The
tone of moderation, tenderness, and good-will which breathed through
his inaugural speech made a profound impression in his favor, while
his voice rang out over the acres of people before him with surprising
distinctness, and was heard in the remotest parts of his audience.

No inaugural address before or since has been awaited with so much
anxiety and interest. It was expected that in this, his first
official utterance, the new President would outline the policy of his
administration and determine whether the country should have war or
peace. Thousands of men were eager for an intimation of what he intended
to say, and an accurate forecast was worth millions of dollars to the
stock market; but not a word nor a thought leaked out. The document was
written with Lincoln's own hand upon the backs of envelopes and other
scraps of paper from time to time as ideas suggested themselves and he
determined what to say, and finally, as the time of his departure from
Springfield approached, he put them together in a little bare room in
a business block over the store of his brother-in-law, where he was
accustomed to retire when he wanted to be alone or had to do writing of
importance. Only two persons knew of this retreat.

When the manuscript was finished it was intrusted to Mr. William H.
Bailhache, editor of the _Illinois State Journal_, who put it in type
himself, assisted by a veteran compositor, also an old friend of
Lincoln. After taking a dozen proof-slips, the type was distributed.
Judge David Davis and one or two other friends read it in Springfield.
Orville H. Browning read it on the journey to Washington, and upon
the morning of his arrival at the capital, a copy was handed to Mr.
Seward, who spent an entire Sunday revising it. His amendments and
suggestions were almost as voluminous as the original document. Lincoln
adopted either in whole or in part nearly all of them, except where they
affected the style or changed the policy indicated. The most important
changes made were to modify the declaration of his intentions to recover
and hold the fortifications and property which had been seized by the
secessionists and to speak of the exercise of power in that direction
with some ambiguity and a hint at forbearance.

During all his life at the White House Lincoln took an active part
in political affairs. He never forgot that he was the President of
the whole country; but at the same time he considered it necessary
to its salvation to establish the Republican party upon a firm and
permanent basis, and for that purpose a more complete and thorough
organization was necessary. He knew the value of an organization of
trained politicians and of political discipline as well as any man in
public life. He was thoroughly a practical politician and as skilful
in execution as he was in planning. He knew how to manipulate men and
direct movements as well as Thurlow Weed, and no man in the Cabinet
or in either House of Congress was more adroit in accomplishing his
purposes. He never failed to carry through Congress any measure that
he considered important; he never failed to obtain the confirmation
of a nominee. He used the patronage of his office to strengthen the
Republican party because he believed it essential to the salvation of
his country. He possessed a political tact so subtle and masterful that
it enabled him to reconcile rivalries and enemies, to unite conflicting
purposes, and to bring to his support men of implacable hostility, who
never realized his purpose until his object was accomplished, and then
it was such as they almost invariably approved. He was candid when
candor was necessary, he was mysterious when he believed it wise to
excite curiosity, and he was determined and often arbitrary with men
whom he thought would be most impressed that way. His greatest quality,
the most valuable talent he possessed, was his ability to fathom the
human heart, to understand its weakness and its strength, so that he
could measure the influence that must be exerted and the methods by
which it could be induced to assist him in his direction of affairs.

His lowly birth and early experience were of great advantage to him in
understanding human nature, and he looked to the great masses of "the
plain people" as well as to the Almighty for guidance, and had full
faith in their honesty and capacity. Before he acted upon any important
question he felt the public pulse, and when he thought the people were
ready he acted, and not before. While he was a great leader, a shrewd
and deep manipulator of public opinion, he often said, in his quaint
way, that it was possible to fool a part of the people all the time,
and all of the people part of the time; but no man could fool all the
people all the time. With his great common sense, he endeavored to
discover what was in the public mind and how the public conscience
would regard certain measures proposed, and waited for it to point out
his path of duty. The atmosphere of Washington never affected him; he
was self-contained and indifferent to social and other influences that
usually exercise much force upon public men.

His sympathies were tender, and his desire to contribute to the
happiness of every one made it difficult for him to say "No;" but this,
his greatest weakness, was never shown in the direction of the military
or political policy of the government. On the contrary, the man who
would violate the laws of war and imperil the discipline of an army by
pardoning a deserter or commuting the sentence of some poor wretch who
was sentenced to be shot would not permit delegations of United States
Senators to move him one atom from what he deemed best to be done. He
carried this principle into his appointments to office also. During
the Presidential canvass of 1864, when a quarrel between the Weed and
Fenton factions of the Republican party endangered the ticket in New
York, Lincoln sent for the Senator. What occurred we do not know; but
Mr. Fenton started immediately for New York with Mr. Nicolay, and the
latter returned to Washington with the resignation of Rufus F. Andrews,
a friend of Mr. Fenton, who had been surveyor of the port, and Abram
Wakeman, Mr. Weed's choice for the office, was appointed at once. From
that time forward Mr. Weed was earnest in his support of the Republican
ticket. Senator Fenton, in his reminiscences, says, "The small majority
in New York in November, less than 7000 for the Republican ticket,
served to illustrate Mr. Lincoln's political sagacity and tact. He was
always a politician as well as a statesman, and but for his intervention
at that time the electoral vote of New York might have been cast for
the Democratic candidate, and no one dare measure the effect of such an
event upon the war."

President Lincoln never hesitated to use the patronage of the government
for political purposes. He held that the government of the United States
is a political organization, and that the political opinions of those
intrusted with its administration in those critical days were of as much
consequence as their integrity or intelligence. As a consequence, he
made his appointments first from among those whom he believed would give
him the most efficient support in his efforts to save the Union, and
second to those who believed in the principles and the measures of the
party with which he was identified. He would have rejected with scorn
the demands of the civil service reformers of the present day. Public
opinion was not then educated up to the existing standard of political
morality. At the same time, his keen sense of justice required him to
recognize and reward merit and efficiency even among his political

He had a sly way of stating his intentions, and he often expressed
great truths in an odd way. Soon after his arrival in Washington the
Massachusetts delegation in the Peace Congress called upon him to
recommend Salmon P. Chase for Secretary of the Treasury. Lincoln heard
them respectfully, and then, with a twinkle in his eye, remarked,--

"Gentlemen, of course, you would not expect me to tell you who is going
to be in the Cabinet; but, from what I hear, I think Mr. Chase's chances
are about one hundred and fifty for any other man's hundred for that

One day, at Cabinet meeting, Mr. Chase was reproaching himself for
failing to write a letter that he had intended to send that day, when
Lincoln observed,--

"Never be sorry for what you don't write; it is the things you do write
that you are usually sorry for."

The President enforced political discipline among the subordinates of
the government. Representative George W. Julian, of Indiana, relates
this incident:

"After my nomination for re-election in the year 1864, Mr. Holloway, who
was holding the position of Commissioner of Patents, and was one of the
editors of a Republican newspaper in my district, refused to recognize
me as the party candidate, and kept the name of my defeated competitor
standing in his paper. It threatened discord and mischief, and I went to
the President with these facts, and on the strength of them asked for
Mr. Holloway's removal from office.

"'Your nomination,' said Mr. Lincoln, 'is as binding on Republicans as
mine, and you can rest assured that Mr. Holloway shall support you,
openly and unconditionally, or lose his head.'

"This was entirely satisfactory; but after waiting a week or two for
the announcement of my name, I returned to the President with the
information that Mr. Holloway was still keeping up his fight, and that
I had come to ask of him decisive measures. I saw in an instant that his
ire was roused. He rang the bell for his messenger, and said to him in a
very excited and emphatic way,--

"'Tell Mr. Holloway to come to me!'

"The messenger hesitated, looking somewhat surprised and bewildered,
when Mr. Lincoln said in a tone still more emphatic,--

"'_Tell Mr. Holloway to come to me!_'

"It was perfectly evident that the business would now be attended to,
and in a few days my name was duly announced and the work of party
insubordination ceased."

The late Chief-Justice Cartter, of the District of Columbia, once called
upon Lincoln with a party of politicians to secure the appointment of
a gentleman who was opposed by the Senators from his State. Lincoln
suggested that they ought to get the Senators on their side. They
replied that, owing to local complications, such a thing was impossible.
Lincoln retorted that nothing was impossible in politics; that the
peculiarities of the Senator referred to were well known, and that by
the use of a little tact and diplomacy he might be brought around, in
which case there would be no doubt about the appointment. To clinch his
argument Lincoln told a story of James Quarles, a distinguished lawyer
of Tennessee. Quarles, he said, was trying a case, and after producing
his evidence rested; whereupon the defence produced a witness who swore
Quarles completely out of court, and a verdict was rendered accordingly.
After the trial one of his friends came to him and said,--

"Why didn't you get that feller to swar on your side?"

"I didn't know anything about him," replied Quarles. "I might have told
you about him," said the friend, "for he would swar for you jest as
hard as he'd swar for the other side. That's his business. Judge, that
feller takes in swarrin' for a living."

Representative John B. Alley, of Massachusetts, who was himself famous
as a politician, said, "Mr. Lincoln was a thorough and most adroit
politician as well as statesman, and in politics always adopted the
means to the end, fully believing that in vital issues 'success was
a duty.' In illustration of this feeling and sentiment, I need only
refer to his action and conduct in procuring the passage of the
constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. It required a two-thirds
vote of Congress to enable the amendments to the Constitution to be sent
to the Legislatures for ratification, and there were two votes lacking
to make two-thirds, which Lincoln said 'must be procured.' Two members
of the House were sent for and Lincoln said that those two votes must be
procured. When asked 'How?' he remarked,--

"'I am President of the United States, clothed with great power. The
abolition of slavery by constitutional provision settles the fate, for
all coming time, not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn
millions to come--a measure of such importance that _those two votes
must be procured_. I leave it to you to determine how it shall be done;
but remember that I am President of the United States, clothed with
immense power, and I expect you to procure those votes.'"

These gentlemen understood the significance of the remark. The votes
were procured, the constitutional amendment was passed, and slavery was
abolished forever.

"Senator Sumner and myself," continued Mr. Alley, "called upon him one
morning to urge the appointment of a Massachusetts man to be a secretary
of legation, chiefly upon the ground of his superior qualifications.
But Mr. Lincoln said, emphatically, 'No;' that he should give the place
to an applicant from another State who was backed by strong influence,
although he acknowledged that he did not think him fit for the position.

"We were naturally indignant, and wished to know if one of acknowledged
fitness was to be rejected because he was a Massachusetts man, and one
whom he was willing to say was not fit was to be appointed. 'Yes,'
said the President, 'that is just the reason,' and facetiously added,
'I suppose you two Massachusetts gentlemen think that your State
could furnish suitable men for every diplomatic and consulate station
the government has to fill.' We replied that we thought it could. He
appeased our displeasure by saying he thought so too, and that he
considered Massachusetts the banner State of the Union, and admired its
institutions and people so much that he sent his 'Bob,' meaning his son
Robert, to Harvard for an education."

The Presidential campaign of 1864 was fought on one issue only, and that
was the success of the war, although Lincoln, in his annual message
to Congress in the December following, declared that "No candidate
for any office whatever, high or low, has ventured to seek votes on
the avowal that he was for giving up the Union." Nevertheless, the
Democrats nominated McClellan and attempted to discredit the patriotism
and the ability of Lincoln. Similar attempts were made in his own party
by the radical antislavery element and the friends of Secretary Chase
and numerous disappointed contractors and politicians, but they made
hardly a ripple upon the great current of public opinion which swept
on irresistible to the Convention. Lincoln did nothing to promote his
candidacy, but made no secret of his desire for a re-election, and
himself suggested the most effective argument in his own support when
he recalled the homely proverb of his youth that "It is bad policy to
swap horses while crossing a stream." He placed no obstacles in the
way of Mr. Chase, and when warned that General Grant might aspire to
the Presidency, replied, "If he takes Richmond, let him have it."
He admonished the officials of the administration against too much
activity and rebuked them for opposing his enemies. He made no speeches
of importance during the campaign, but on several occasions addressed
delegations which visited Washington, appeared at sanitary fairs for the
benefit of sick soldiers, responded to serenades, and whenever custom or
courtesy required him to appear in public he did so without reference to
political results.

In August, 1864, the political horizon was very dark, and the President
himself, who was always the most hopeful and confident of men, almost
entirely lost heart. Having convinced himself that the campaign was
going against him, he deliberately laid down a line of duty for
himself, and at the Cabinet meeting on August 23 he requested each one
of his ministers to write their names upon a folded sheet of paper
in such a way that the seal could not be broken without mutilating
their autographs. He made no explanation of its contents or of his
reason for desiring them to attest it, but after the election it was
disclosed that the mysterious paper contained a pledge from himself and
his administration loyally to accept any verdict which the people of
the country might pronounce upon their efforts to save the Union, and
to continue their labors with zealous loyalty until relieved by their
successors. The pledge closed as follows:

"This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that
this administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to
so co-operate with the President-elect as to save the Union between the
election and the inauguration, as he will have secured the election on
such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterwards."



Lincoln tells us that before he left the telegraph office at Springfield
on the night of the election in November, 1860, he had practically
selected his Cabinet. The superintendent of the telegraph company gave
him a room from which all other visitors were excluded, and, with
no company but two operators, he read the reports as they came in.
Between times he had plenty of opportunity for meditation, and, always
confident, the returns soon convinced him of his election and his mind
naturally turned upon the next important act for him to perform. "When
I finally left that room," he said afterwards, "I had substantially
completed the framework of my Cabinet as it now exists."

To begin with, he decided to offer posts of honor to those who had been
his rivals for the Presidential nomination,--Seward, Chase, Cameron,
and Bates,--and to fill the remaining places with representatives of
the various elements that had combined to form the Republican party. It
was to be a composite Cabinet, purely political, including no intimate
friends, no personal adherents, and in the entire list there was not
one with whom he ever had confidential relations. His plan seems to
have been to combine, as one of his secretaries said, the experience
of Seward, the integrity of Chase, the popularity of Cameron, and to
hold the West with Bates, attract New England with Welles, please the
Whigs through Smith, and convince the Democrats through Blair. Lincoln
always had a great respect for names. No one had studied more closely
the careers of American politicians, although his personal acquaintances
outside of his own State were limited, and he was more familiar with
the personal qualifications and political records of the gentlemen he
had chosen than were they with his. Perhaps he overestimated their
ability and the value of their advice, as he was likely to do because
of his own modesty and inexperience. He saw distinctly the impending
crisis, and felt the need of support from leaders of experience,
ability, and influence, as well as popular sympathy. But at the same
time the combination he selected had in it all the seeds of disaster
because of personal jealousy, previous political rivalry, and the
intrigues of their henchmen. Yet by his great tact, patience, and
strength of purpose he made them instruments of his will. As finally
chosen, his Cabinet represented every faction of the new Republican
party and the ablest representative of each division as evenly as an odd
number could. When reminded that he had selected four Democrats and only
three Whigs, he promptly replied that he was himself a Whig, and hoped
that he should often be at Cabinet meetings to make the parties even.
This was a famous jest during the early part of the administration.

Although he had decided in his own mind upon five of seven of his future
advisers before the votes that elected him were counted, he treated with
patience and courtesy the crowds of politicians that came from different
parts of the country to advise and persuade him in the interest of their
friends. He listened attentively to all that his visitors had to say and
gave their suggestions careful reflection. He said to Thurlow Weed that
he supposed the latter had some experience in cabinet-making, and, as he
had never learned that trade himself, he was disposed to avail himself
of the suggestions of friends. The making of a Cabinet, he added, was by
no means as easy as he had supposed, partly, he believed, because, while
the population had increased, great men were scarcer than they used to

He was extremely anxious to get two Southerners for the Cabinet, as he
believed that such an act might go far to reconcile the loyal people
of that section to his election and establish him in their confidence,
but from the beginning he saw that his hopes were not to be realized.
In order to draw out public sentiment, he wrote a brief anonymous
editorial for the _Illinois State Journal_ on the subject, in which he
asked whether it was known that any Southern gentlemen of character
would accept such an appointment, and, if so, on what terms would they
surrender their political differences to Mr. Lincoln or Mr. Lincoln to

"There are men in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee,"
said Thurlow Weed, "for whose loyalty under any circumstances and in any
event I would vouch."

"Let's have the names of your white blackbirds," replied Lincoln, and
Weed gave him four, Mr. Seward suggested several, and Mr. Greeley
suggested five. Of all the gentlemen named, Lincoln preferred John A.
Gilmer, of North Carolina, with whom he had served in Congress, and
who had been a prominent leader of the Whig party in that State. He
invited Gilmer to Springfield, but the latter would not come, and after
canvassing the various suggestions which were made him, he found that he
must limit his choice to the border States, and selected Edward Bates,
of Missouri, and Montgomery Blair, of Maryland.

Mr. Bates was an able lawyer and a highly respected and popular
antislavery Whig from a slave State. He had been a candidate for the
Presidential nomination at Chicago, and had received 48 votes out of
465 cast by delegates from Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, Texas, Oregon,
Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Early in December he sent word to Mr.
Bates that he would be in St. Louis the next day to consult him about
matters of importance; but Mr. Bates would not permit him to make the
journey, and started at once for Springfield. They had been acquainted
for several years and were very good friends, and after cordial
greetings, Lincoln explained that he would like to have Mr. Bates accept
the post of Attorney-General in his Cabinet, for which the latter was
in every way qualified, and which he would find congenial. Mr. Bates
accepted, and the next day the announcement was given to the newspapers
for the purpose of quieting the demands of the conservative Republicans
and antislavery Whigs in the border States for recognition.

A few days later he offered a Cabinet position to Caleb B. Smith,
of Indiana, without assigning him to any particular portfolio. This
was done to relieve him from the pressure that was being brought by
Schuyler Colfax, whose friends were exceedingly persistent. Mr. Colfax
was very much disappointed, and attributed his failure to obtain the
appointment to Lincoln's resentment towards him because he had favored
the re-election of Douglas to the United States Senate in 1858. Lincoln
was not aware of this supposition until after he had entered upon his
duties as President, when he showed his candor and good-nature by
writing a friendly letter to Mr. Colfax explaining that "a tender of
the appointment was not withheld in any part because of anything that
happened in 1858. Indeed, I should have decided as I did, easier than
I did, had that matter never existed. I had partly made up my mind in
favor of Mr. Smith--not conclusively, of course--before your name was
mentioned in that connection. When you were brought forward I said,
'Colfax is a young man already in a position, is running a brilliant
career, and is sure of a bright future in any event. With Smith it is
now or never.' I now have to beg that you will not do me the injustice
to suppose for a moment that I remember anything against you in malice."

Mr. Smith did not remain in the Cabinet a great while, however. The
duties of Secretary of the Interior were arduous and uncongenial,
and he retired in December, 1862, at his own request, to accept an
appointment to the United States District bench. He was succeeded by
John P. Usher, also of Indiana, who continued in office until after the
inauguration of Johnson, although he tendered his resignation early
in 1865 to relieve President Lincoln from the criticism of having
two members of his Cabinet from Indiana, Hugh McCulloch having been
appointed Secretary of the Treasury. The President was reluctant to let
Mr. Usher go, but accepted his resignation, and, for some reason never
explained, fixed May 15, 1865, as the day when it should take effect.
When that day arrived Lincoln had no further need of his services.

Mr. Bates proved a strong supporter of the war. He was a man of
determination and belligerent disposition, notwithstanding his
conservative education; and although he came from a slave State, he was
one of the most radical of the President's advisers whenever the slavery
question came up. When the Emancipation Proclamation was first proposed,
Mr. Bates and Mr. Stanton were the only members of the Cabinet who gave
it their unreserved approval, while Mr. Chase, who came nearer to being
the representative of the abolition faction than any other member, and
Mr. Seward, who was supposed to be the most radical of Republicans, were
opposed to it.

Among Mr. Stanton's papers is a curious memorandum which throws a
search-light upon his position and that of some of his colleagues.

        "Tuesday, July 22.

    "The President proposes to issue an order declaring free all
    slaves in States in rebellion on the ---- day of ----.

    "The Attorney-General and Stanton are for its immediate

    "Seward against it; argues strongly in favor of cotton and
    foreign governments.

    "Chase silent.


    "Seward argues--That foreign nations will intervene to
    prevent the abolition of slavery for sake of cotton. Argues in
    a long speech against its immediate promulgation. Wants to wait
    for troops. Wants Halleck here. Wants drum and fife and public
    spirit. We break up our relations with foreign nations and the
    production of cotton for sixty years.

    "Chase thinks it a measure of great danger, and would lead
    to universal emancipation.--The measure goes beyond anything I
    have recommended."

However, before 1864 Mr. Bates grew weary of his official labors and
expressed to the President his desire to retire. He was offered a vacant
judgeship in Missouri, but declined it on the ground that he could not
work in harmony with the radicals who were in control of politics there.
When he retired the Cabinet was left without a Southern member.

A few days before the meeting of the Supreme Court, in December, 1864,
Lincoln sent for Titian J. Coffey, the Assistant Attorney-General, and

"My Cabinet has shrunk up North, and I must find a Southern man. I
suppose if the twelve apostles were to be chosen nowadays the shrieks of
locality would have to be heeded. I have invited Judge Holt to become
Attorney-General, but he seems unwilling to undertake the Supreme Court
work. I want you to see him, remove his objection if you can, and bring
me his answer."

"I then had charge of the government cases in the Supreme Court, and
they were all ready for argument," said Mr. Coffey. "I saw Judge Holt,
explained the situation, and assured him that he need not appear in
court unless he chose to do so. He had, however, decided to decline the
invitation, and I returned to the President and so informed him.

"'Then,' said the President, 'I will offer it to James Speed, of
Louisville, a man I know well, though not so well as I know his brother
Joshua. I slept with Joshua for four years, and I suppose I ought to
know him well. But James is an honest man and a gentleman, and if he
comes here you will find he is one of those well-poised men, not too
common here, who are not spoiled by a big office.'"

Mr. Speed accepted the appointment and served until after the

The relations between several of the members of Lincoln's Cabinet were
from the beginning to the end unfriendly, and no President without the
tact, patience, and forbearance of Lincoln could have controlled them.
He treated them all with unvarying kindness, and although he never
disclosed any desire or intention to dominate, and, in fact, invariably
yielded on matters of little importance, he was always their master,
and on matters of great importance they were compelled to submit to his
will. It is the highest testimony to their confidence in him that even
those who had retired at his wish never afterwards failed to show him
respect and even affection, and none of them ever retired from his post
from feelings of dissatisfaction with the orders or the treatment he
received from him.

During the early days of his administration he had a higher opinion
of his advisers than they had of him, which was because they did not
yet know one another. He recognized them as men who had made honorable
records in the United States Senate and in other eminent positions,
while they regarded him as an ordinary frontier lawyer, without
experience, and the struggle for ascendancy and control puzzled a good
many people from time to time. Mr. Seward was looked upon as the chief
pillar of the temple for many months, Mr. Stanton's iron will was
constantly felt by the public, Mr. Chase was regarded as an eminent
statesman; but in all the critical issues of the war the uncouth Western
lawyer, without experience in statecraft or executive administration,
unused to power, asserted and maintained his official supremacy, and
every member of his Cabinet yielded implicit obedience. They recognized
his unselfish purpose, his purity of character, his keen perception, his
foresight, and his common sense, and were usually willing to accept his
judgment. While others fretted and became confused in the emergencies
that overwhelmed them, Lincoln was never liable to excitement or
impulsive action.


From a photograph by Brady]

At the beginning of his administration the entire organization of
the government was in a chaotic state. The Buchanan administration
had filled the offices with Democrats and Southern sympathizers, who
resigned immediately after Lincoln's inauguration and left their affairs
in utter confusion. Their places had to be filled with untrained men
who did not understand their duties and had not been accustomed to
official labor or discipline. It would have been remarkable if they had
conducted the routine work without friction, but the urgency and the
magnitude of the responsibility and labor that were thrown upon them
was more than a trained corps of officials could have executed without
confusion and delay. The President was probably the only man connected
with the government that did not lose his self-control. During all
that most trying period, as was the case throughout his life, he was
composed, serene, and confident. Oftentimes, when subordinate officials
and outsiders came to him raging with indignation, he heard them with
patience, replied with a jest on his lips, and quieted their nerves by
talking of commonplace matters. His Cabinet officers were often fretful,
and there was continual friction between the several departments.
Several times it almost reached the breaking-point. But Lincoln
soothed and satisfied all parties without taking the side of either.

Montgomery Blair, of Maryland, was not only a representative of the
border State aristocracy, but belonged to one of the most prominent
Democratic families in the country, was one of the founders of the
Republican party, and was first known to Lincoln as the attorney who
argued Dred Scott's case in the Supreme Court. He was a graduate of
West Point Military Academy, had several years of military training in
Indian campaigns, had studied law, and was appointed a judge of the
Court of Common Pleas when he was a very young man. President Buchanan
made him solicitor of the Court of Claims, but removed him because of
his opposition to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. This made a
Republican of Blair, and, with the exception of his brother Francis P.
Blair, of Missouri, and Cassius M. Clay, of Kentucky, he was the most
conspicuous antislavery man in all the Southern States.

Blair could not be appointed to the Cabinet without a bitter
controversy. He was opposed by Henry Winter Davis, one of the most able
and brilliant young Whigs in the House of Representatives, and by other
partisans in Maryland, who fought so hard and so persistently as to
involve several of the leading Whigs of the country on his side, while
the former Democrats in the Republican party rallied to the support of
Blair. Davis had the powerful sympathy of Seward and Chase, Benjamin
F. Wade, and other prominent abolitionists, and it became no longer
a matter of personal rivalry between Blair and Davis, but a struggle
for supremacy between the Whigs and the Democrats for the control of
the administration. During the few days before the inauguration it
seemed as if the Republican party would be split in twain, or at least
that the entire Cabinet slate would be destroyed if either Blair or
Davis received an appointment. Lincoln seemed to be the only man in
Washington who was not involved in the controversy. He watched the
situation with keen eyes, however, and was alert for every event or
incident that might have a serious effect upon his administration; but
his mind was made up, and when Norman B. Judd came bursting into his
bedroom at Willard's Hotel on the night of March 3, to inquire in great
excitement if he had decided to nominate Davis instead of Blair, Lincoln
replied calmly but with emphasis,--

"When that slate breaks again it will break at the top."

Mr. Blair was a loyal and useful member of the Cabinet, and from the
beginning was in favor of prompt and energetic measures against the
secessionists. He had been a Democrat of the Jackson type, and urged
Lincoln to adopt Jackson's vigorous policy against nullification. It
might have been wiser and better for the country, it might have saved
lives and money, sorrow and tears, if his advice had been adopted. He
understood the South better than Seward or Chase or any other member
of the Cabinet; but conditions would not permit the adoption of his
energetic policy, and he became very restless. His temper and his
character were revealed in a memorandum which he submitted with his
colleagues at the request of Lincoln, concerning setting forth his views
of the course that should be pursued.

Mr. Blair wrote,--

    "_First._ As regards General Scott, I have no confidence
    in his judgment on the questions of the day. His political
    views control his judgment, and his course, as remarked on
    by the President, shows that whilst no one will question his
    patriotism, the results are the same as if he were in fact

    "_Second._ It is acknowledged to be possible to relieve Fort
    Sumter. It ought to be relieved without reference to Pickens or
    any other possession. South Carolina is the head and front of
    this rebellion, and when that State is safely delivered from the
    authority of the United States it will strike a blow against our
    authority, from which it will take us years of bloody strife to

He opposed the Emancipation Proclamation on the ground of policy, and
made an earnest effort to convince Lincoln that it was a mistake to
take such radical action at that particular junction. He had been an
emancipationist for years, the principle of the measure he approved, but
he thought the time was inopportune, because he feared that it would
drive the border States over to the Confederacy.

Mr. Blair was constantly coming into collision with Mr. Stanton. Like
two flints, they struck fire whenever they met, and often engaged in
acrimonious discussions at Cabinet meetings over actual or fancied
grievances on the part of Mr. Blair, who felt that Mr. Stanton was
continually interfering with his prerogatives. Mr. Blair's enmity to Mr.
Seward was equally strong and often developed in an embarrassing manner,
while the hostility between Mr. Chase and himself was concealed under
the thinnest veneer of politeness.

In the summer of 1864 Mr. Blair desired to have certain orders issued
relating to the postal service within the lines of the army. A draft of
the proposed orders was made, but Mr. Stanton declined to issue them.
General Markland, who was in charge of the army mails, says, "When I
returned to Mr. Blair with the information that the orders would not
be issued by the Secretary of War, he said, 'We will see,' and wrote
a letter to Mr. Lincoln, which he gave to me to deliver with the
accompanying papers. When I delivered the letter, Mr. Lincoln read it
carefully and handed it back to me, saying,--

"'What is the matter between Blair and Stanton?' "I told him all I knew
in reference to the proposed orders. He then said, 'If I understand
the case, General Grant wants the orders issued, and Blair wants them
issued, and you want them issued, and Stanton won't issue them. Now,
don't you see what kind of a fix I will be in if I interfere? I'll
tell you what to do. If you and General Grant understand one another,
suppose you try to get along without the orders, and if Blair or Stanton
makes a fuss, I may be called in as a reference, and I may decide in
your favor.' The orders were never issued, and pleasant relations were
maintained on that score all around."

Mr. Blair was not popular with the Union people of the North. The public
distrust is strikingly illustrated by the following anecdote from
the reminiscences of Henry Ward Beecher: "There was some talk, early
in 1864, of a sort of compromise with the South. Blair had told the
President he was satisfied that if he could be put in communication with
some of the leading men of the South in some way or other, that some
benefit would accrue. Lincoln had sent a delegation to meet Alexander
Stephens, and that was all the North knew. We were all very much excited
over that. The war lasted so long, and I was afraid Lincoln would be
so anxious for peace, and I was afraid he would accept something that
would be of advantage to the South, so I went to Washington and called
upon him. I said to him, 'Mr. Lincoln, I come to you to know whether
the public interest will permit you to explain to me what this Southern
commission means? I am in an embarrassing position as editor and do not
want to step in the dark.' Well, he listened very patiently, and looked
up to the ceiling for a few moments, and said, 'Well, I am almost of a
mind to show you all the documents.'

"'Well, Mr. Lincoln, I should like to see them if it is proper.' He went
to his little secretary and came out and handed me a little card as long
as my finger and an inch wide, and on that was written,--

    "'You will pass the bearer through the lines' [or something
    to that effect].

        "'A. LINCOLN.'

"'There,' he said, 'is all there is of it. Now, Blair thinks something
can be done, but I don't; but I have no objection to have him try his
hand. He has no authority whatever but to go and see what he can do.'"

The President was continually receiving letters, resolutions, and even
delegations demanding the removal of his Postmaster-General, and Mr.
Blair did not improve the situation by his own conduct. He continued to
write letters and make speeches, and indulged in caustic and sometimes
cruel criticism of his colleagues and the Republican leaders in
Washington until the situation became so strained that the President
was compelled to ask his resignation. Before this was done, however,
a little incident occurred which forcibly illustrates the President's
patience, dignity, and at the same time his determination. The incident
is probably without parallel in the history of the government.

General Halleck, in command of the army, called the attention of the
Secretary of War to a speech made by Mr. Blair just after General
Early's raid upon Washington and the destruction of Mr. Blair's property
over the District border in Maryland, in which the army and its
commander were denounced for cowardice and inefficiency. General Halleck
declared that if the charge was true the names of the officers should be
stricken from the rolls of the army. If it were not true, he said, the
slanderer should be dismissed from the Cabinet.

Secretary Stanton handed the letter to the President without comment,
whereupon Lincoln replied to General Halleck:

"Whether the remarks were really made I do not know, nor do I suppose
such knowledge is necessary to a correct response. If they were made,
I do not approve them; and yet, under the circumstances, I would not
dismiss a member of the Cabinet therefor. I do not consider what may
have been hastily said in a moment of vexation at so severe a loss is
sufficient ground for so grave a step. Besides this, truth is generally
the best vindication against slander. I propose continuing to be myself
the judge as to when a member of the Cabinet shall be dismissed."

Not satisfied with this, the President, when the Cabinet came together,
read them this impressive little lecture:

"I must myself be the judge how long to retain 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 or question asked by any of you, here or elsewhere, now or

This occurred in July, but Mr. Blair continued to exasperate every
person with whom he came in contact. He accused Seward, Stanton, and
Chase of a conspiracy to break down the administration, and wearied
the President with his suspicions of the motives and actions of all
the leading Republicans of the country, until Lincoln finally wrote
him a kindly letter, saying, "You have generously said to me more than
once that whenever your resignation could be a relief to me it was at
my disposal. The time has come. You know very well that this proceeds
from no dissatisfaction of mine with you personally or officially. Your
uniform kindness has been unsurpassed by that of any other friend."

Mr. Blair's loyalty to Lincoln and the Union was in no way affected by
his dismissal. He immediately took the stump in behalf of Lincoln's
re-election and his personal fidelity and friendship were never
shaken. Lincoln offered him the choice between the Austrian and Spanish
missions, but he declined the honor with thanks.

Mr. Blair's successor was William Dennison, of Ohio, a man of the
highest character, who had been Governor of that State at the outbreak
of the war, and had sustained the administration at Washington with
great ability and loyalty. He was a man of fine presence, winning
manners, and amiable disposition, wise in counsel, and energetic in

Simon Cameron, of Pennsylvania, was a candidate for the Presidential
nomination at Chicago and received fifty votes. His friends reached
some sort of an understanding with David Davis, who was looked upon
as Lincoln's personal representative at the Convention, under which
they transferred their votes to the latter, although it was distinctly
understood that Davis had no authority to make pledges or promises and
could only recommend to Lincoln that Mr. Cameron be recognized in as
honorable and notable a manner as possible. It was, however, perfectly
natural for the President to select a member of his official family
from a State of such importance as Pennsylvania, and Mr. Cameron was
recognized as the representative of the protective tariff element in the
Republican party. Hence, after a "balancing of matters," as he called
it, he invited Mr. Cameron to Springfield during the holidays in 1860,
had a frank talk with him, and tendered him a seat in the Cabinet either
as Secretary of the Treasury or Secretary of War, "which of the two I
have not yet definitely decided."

There was a volcanic eruption in Pennsylvania after the announcement,
and bitter hostility was immediately developed among the members of
Mr. Cameron's own party, headed by the newly elected Governor and
chairman of the Republican State Committee, who protested against his
appointment, and claimed the right to be consulted if a member of the
Cabinet was to be selected from their State. Being a strict party man,
the President recognized their claim, and therefore wrote a polite and
friendly note to Mr. Cameron, explaining that it was impossible to take
him into the Cabinet under the circumstances, and suggesting that he
decline the appointment. "Better do this at once," he wrote, "before
things change so that you cannot honorably decline and I be compelled to
openly recall the tender. No person living knows or has an intimation
that I write this letter." This, of itself, is sufficient answer to the
frequent charge that there was a corrupt bargain at Chicago between
Lincoln and Cameron.

As might be expected, Mr. Cameron was deeply disappointed, and
sent a friend to Springfield to demand a further explanation of
the President-elect. Whereupon Lincoln wrote a conciliatory reply,
expressing regret that Mr. Cameron's feelings were wounded by the tone
of his letter, and saying that it had been written "under great anxiety,
and perhaps I was not so guarded in its terms as I should have been.
My great object was to have you act quickly, if possible, before the
matter should be complicated with the Pennsylvania Senatorial election.
Destroy the offensive letter or return it to me. I say to you now that
I have not doubted that you would perform the duties of a department
ably and faithfully. Nor have I for a moment intended to ostracize your
friends. If I should make a Cabinet appointment for Penn. before I reach
Washington, I will not do so without consulting you and giving all the
weight to your views and wishes which I consistently can. This I have
always intended."

This was purely personal, and attached to it was a letter in more formal
language which Mr. Cameron was authorized to show to his friends. In it
Lincoln stated that Mr. Cameron came to Springfield by his invitation
and not upon any suggestion of his own; that he had been offered an
appointment in the Cabinet, but that complications had arisen which made
it necessary to recall the offer.

In this way Mr. Cameron was "let down easy," and while he did not
conceal his disappointment and chagrin, he kept his temper and conducted
himself in so dignified a manner that Lincoln was greatly impressed.
Cameron's enemies, still fearing that he might be taken into the
Cabinet, resorted to despicable measures to prejudice Lincoln against
him, while, on the other hand, he was earnestly defended by some of the
best people of Pennsylvania; hence the President decided to revive his
original plan, and placed Mr. Cameron's name on the slate as Secretary
of War.

It proved to be an unfortunate decision, for before active hostilities
began it had been clearly demonstrated that he was not qualified to
fill that important post. Scandals and dissensions of the most serious
character were immediately developed in the War Department, so that
Congress appointed a special committee to make an investigation. Its
report was sensational and was too grave for Lincoln to overlook. About
the time the report was made Mr. Cameron took the liberty to announce in
his annual report the policy of the administration in regard to arming
the negroes and enlisting them in the military service. So radical an
announcement, without even consulting him, was not only a shock to
Lincoln, but passed the limits of his forbearance. Fortunately, Mr.
Cameron's report had not reached the public. Printed copies had been
sent to the press to be published as soon as the telegraph had announced
that the President's message had been read in Congress. Every copy was
recalled to Washington, the objectionable paragraphs were modified, a
new edition was published, and Mr. Cameron expressed a wish to exchange
the onerous responsibilities of the War Department for a foreign
mission. Lincoln wrote him a brief note, keeping up the pretence by
saying, "As you have more than once expressed a desire for a change of
position, I can now gratify you consistently with my view of the public
interest. I therefore propose to nominate you to the Senate next Monday
as Minister to Russia."

As was the case with Mr. Blair, the dissolution of relations caused no
break in the friendship between the President and his former minister.
Cameron remained one of the most devoted of Lincoln's supporters and one
of the most earnest and effective advocates of his renomination to the

Gideon Welles was altogether the most agreeable and satisfactory of the
fifteen members of Lincoln's official advisers. He invariably sustained
him in any position that he took or in any measure that he desired.
He gave him consistent and cordial support and the least trouble and
anxiety of any of his official family. Mr. Welles was selected as the
representative of New England. Amos Tuck, of New Hampshire, George
Ashmun, of Boston, and several other eminent gentlemen were also under


From a photograph by Brady]

The morning after his speech in Hartford, in the spring of 1860, Lincoln
took a long stroll through the principal streets of that beautiful
city. As he approached the hotel he stepped into a book-store, where a
gentleman who had been in his audience the evening before approached and
introduced himself. There seemed to be a mutual attraction, and for two
hours they discussed various subjects of interest, politics, law, and
literature. The next time they met was after the Chicago Convention, to
which Mr. Welles was a delegate, and during the campaign they exchanged
frequent letters, until Lincoln was thoroughly convinced of the fitness,
availability, and character of the Connecticut lawyer for a position in
his Cabinet. The special knowledge of maritime law shown by the latter
seems to have suggested his assignment to the Navy Department.

Mr. Welles showed a vigorous determination, a high sense of patriotism,
and great executive ability from the start, but almost immediately
after the organization of the Cabinet came into collision with Mr.
Seward because of the interference of the latter with naval affairs,
and they never became friends. Notwithstanding the intensity of their
hostility, however, both remained through the entire administration,
and were the only members of the original Cabinet who continued in that
relation until Lincoln's death. Although there were many complaints
of his arrogant manner and irritable temper, Mr. Welles always showed
a loyal affection for the President, and in August, 1862, refused to
sign the "round robin" which Seward and Chase had prepared, demanding
the dismissal of General McClellan. He agreed heartily with them, but
refused to sign because of his deep respect for the President and a fear
of wounding his feelings.

The first member of the Cabinet selected was William H. Seward. There
was no delay, doubt, or hesitation in Lincoln's intention to offer
him the highest honor in his gift from the hour that he received the
news of his nomination, and it was entirely fitting that it should be
so. At that time Mr. Seward was pre-eminent among the members of the
Republican party. He was its leader in the Senate and was recognized as
its logical candidate for the Presidency. He had the largest number of
supporters at the Convention, and was defeated only by a combination of
the minority. He had been longer in public life, was higher in official
rank, and had been more conspicuous and successful in statesmanship
than any other of Lincoln's supporters; he had been Governor of the
greatest State in the Union, and was just completing his second term in
the United States Senate. He had the best organization behind him that
had ever been known in American politics up to that time, with Thurlow
Weed, recognized as the most consummate politician in the country, as
his manager. It certainly would have been strange if the President-elect
had not selected such a man as Secretary of State. Nevertheless, there
was considerable opposition to Seward's appointment in his own State
as well as elsewhere. It came from personal jealousy and enmity, and
also from patriotic and honorable people who feared that he might
dominate the administration, they not liking his methods; but Lincoln
did not hesitate. He wrote Mr. Seward at once after the election, asking
permission to nominate him as Secretary of State, and saying that such
had been his intention from the day of the nomination at Chicago.
"With the belief that your position in the public eye, your integrity,
ability and learning and great experience, all combine to render it an
appointment pre-eminently fit to be made."

Mr. Seward took three weeks for reflection, and with "much
self-distrust" finally relieved Lincoln's anxiety by admitting, in a
lofty manner, that he considered it his duty to accept. The tone of this
letter did not please Lincoln; and from that moment, with the instinct
of self-protection which he often displayed,--and his instincts were
exceedingly accurate,--he was on his guard in dealing with the great man
from New York. Nevertheless, he treated him with frankness and delicate
courtesy and continued to correspond with him concerning confidential

Upon his arrival in Washington he immediately handed a copy of his
inaugural address to his future Secretary of State, and the latter
revised it in such a vigorous and arrogant manner that the unfavorable
impression was deepened. Mr. Seward was always at hand to offer advice
and give directions upon every subject. Lincoln listened with respectful
attention, but continued to exercise his own judgment, and the spirit
of independence he showed concerning several matters which Mr. Seward
undertook to decide for him so alarmed the latter that two days before
the inauguration he wrote a polite note asking leave to withdraw his
acceptance of the office of Secretary of State. The note was received
on Saturday. Any other man but Lincoln would have been disconcerted, at
least, and would have immediately sought advice and assistance; but he
did not mention the matter to any one, nor did he make any reply until
Monday morning. Then, while waiting at Willard's Hotel for President
Buchanan to escort him to the Capitol, he dictated a brief note, saying,
"I feel constrained to beg that you will countermand the withdrawal.
The public interest, I think, demands that you should, and my personal
feelings are deeply enlisted in the same direction."

He handed the note to Mr. Nicolay, saying, "I can't afford to let Seward
take the first trick."

After the return of the inaugural procession to the White House the two
men had a long and confidential talk. No one knows what they said to
each other, but Mr. Seward accepted the office and his nomination was
sent to the Senate the next morning.

Mr. Seward at once assumed that he was Prime Minister with independent
and autocratic powers. He sent agents upon secret missions, he indicated
to his visitors the policy of the administration,--and made pledges on
behalf of the President without consulting him. He opened negotiations
with the secession leaders upon his own responsibility. He issued orders
to officers of the army and navy over the heads of his associates in
charge of those departments, and gave assurances to the representatives
of foreign governments without the approval or even the knowledge of the
President. He seemed cheerfully to assume responsibility for the entire
government, and did not hesitate to permit the official representatives
of the Southern States and the public generally to presume that he and
not Lincoln was the highest and final authority. He even attempted to
deceive his wife on this subject. "I will try to save freedom and my
country," he wrote her. "I have assumed a sort of dictatorship.... It
seems to me if I am absent only eight days, this administration, the
Congress and the District would fall into consternation and despair....
I am the only hopeful, calm, and conciliatory person here...." Again he
writes, "Only the soothing words which I have spoken have saved us and
carried us along thus far. And still again the cares chiefly fall on me."

Secretary Welles wrote a book to describe the controversies between
Mr. Seward and the rest of the Cabinet, in which he shows a good deal
of resentment but a good deal of truth. Mr. Seward's moral perceptions
were obscured by the responsibilities and power that had been assumed
by him. Although he did not suspect it, he was gradually drifting into
a collision with a stronger character than his own, and but for the
magnanimity and generous nature of the President, his political career
might have been swallowed up in his vanity and arrogance.


From a photograph by Brady]

Upon April 1, after the new administration had been in control for
a little more than three weeks, under the title "Some Thoughts for
the President's Consideration," he submitted the most extraordinary
proposition that appears among the archives of the Department of State.
Assuming that he, and not Lincoln, was responsible for the conduct of
the administration and the management of the government; writing as if
he were the Prime Minister and Lincoln an impotent king; he laid down
his plan of action and the line of policy he intended to pursue. He
proposed that Lincoln should practically relinquish his Presidential
responsibilities and authority; that he should repudiate the party that
had elected him; that he should ignore the principles upon which the
Presidential campaign had been fought and surrender the moral triumph
of the victory; that he should convene Congress and declare war against
Great Britain, Russia, France, and Spain, and endeavor to negotiate
for an offensive and defensive alliance with Canada, Mexico, and Central
America against Europe. The following is the text:


    "_First._ We are at the end of a month's administration, and
    yet without a policy, either domestic or foreign.

    "_Second._ This, however, is not culpable, and it has even
    been unavoidable. The presence of the Senate, with the need to
    meet applications for patronage, have prevented attention to
    other and more grave matters.

    "_Third._ But further delay to adopt and prosecute our
    policies for both domestic and foreign affairs would not only
    bring scandal on the administration, but danger upon the country.

    "_Fourth._ To do this we must dismiss the applicants for
    office. But how? I suggest that we make the local appointments
    forthwith, leaving foreign or general ones for ulterior and
    occasional action.

    "_Fifth._ The policy at home. I am aware that my views are
    singular, and perhaps not sufficiently explained. My system is
    built upon this idea as a ruling one,--namely, that we must


    "In other words, from what would be regarded as a party
    question, to one of patriotism or union.

    "The occupation or evacuation of Fort Sumter, although not
    in fact a slavery or a party question, is so regarded. Witness
    the temper manifested by the Republicans in the free States, and
    even by the Union men in the South.

    "I would therefore terminate it as a safe means for
    changing the issue. I deem it fortunate that the last
    administration created the necessity.

    "For the rest, I would simultaneously defend and re-enforce
    all the ports in the Gulf, and have the navy recalled from
    foreign stations to be prepared for a blockade. Put the island
    of Key West under martial law.

    "This will raise distinctly the question of union or
    disunion. I would maintain every fort and possession in the


    "I would demand explanations from Spain and France,
    categorically, at once.

    "I would seek explanations from Great Britain and Russia,
    and send agents into Canada, Mexico, and Central America to
    rouse a vigorous continental spirit of independence on this
    continent against European intervention.

    "And, if satisfactory explanations are not received from
    Spain and France,

    "Would convene Congress and declare war against them.

    "But whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic
    prosecution of it.

    "For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue
    and direct it incessantly.

    "Either the President must do it himself, and be all the
    while active in it, or

    "Devolve it on some member of his Cabinet. Once adopted,
    debates on it must end, and all agree and abide.

    "It is not my especial province; but I neither seek to evade
    nor assume responsibility."

It is impossible for any one to conceive the feelings of the President
when he read this boastful and insolent document. But his self-control
was so perfect, his anxiety to preserve harmony among those who were
trying to save the Union was so great, and his patience so limitless
that he returned the memorandum to Mr. Seward with the following firm
and conclusive but courteous rebuke, and the subject was never alluded
to again by either of them:

        "EXECUTIVE MANSION, April 1, 1861.

    "HON. W. H. SEWARD.

    "MY DEAR SIR: Since parting with you, I have been
    considering your paper dated this day, and entitled 'Some
    Thoughts for the President's Consideration.' The first
    proposition in it is, '_First._ We are at the end of a month's
    administration, and yet without a policy, either domestic or

    "At the beginning of that month, in the inaugural, I said,
    'The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and
    possess the property and places belonging to the government,
    and to collect the duties and imposts.' This had your distinct
    approval at the time; and taken in connection with the order I
    immediately gave General Scott, directing him to employ every
    means in his power to strengthen and hold the forts, comprises
    the exact domestic policy you now urge, with the single
    exception that it does not propose to abandon Fort Sumter.

    "Again, I do not perceive how the reinforcement of Fort
    Sumter would be done on a slavery or party issue, while that of
    Fort Pickens would be on a more national and patriotic one.

    "The news received yesterday in regard to San Domingo
    certainly brings a new item within the range of our foreign
    policy; but up to that time we have been preparing circulars and
    instructions to ministers and the like, all in perfect harmony,
    without even a suggestion that we had no foreign policy.

    "Upon your closing proposition--that 'whatever policy we
    adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution of it.

    "'For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue
    and direct it incessantly.

    "'Either the President must do it himself, and be all the
    while active in it, or

    "'Devolve it on some member of his Cabinet. Once adopted,
    debates on it must end, and all agree and abide.'--I remark
    that if this must be done, I must do it. When a general line
    of policy is adopted, I apprehend that there is no danger of
    its being changed without good reason, or continuing to be a
    subject of unnecessary debate; still, upon points arising in its
    progress I wish, and suppose I am entitled to have, the advice
    of all the Cabinet.

        "Your obedient servant,
            "A. LINCOLN."

The President never revealed this amazing incident to anybody but Mr.
Nicolay, and it was never suspected by any member of his Cabinet until
the correspondence was published by Nicolay and Hay in the _Century
Magazine_, nearly thirty years after. Mr. Seward recognized his master
at last and wrote his wife, "Executive force and vigor are rare
qualities. The President is the best of us."

From that time there were no serious differences between the President
and his Secretary of State, although they frequently differed upon
matters of policy as well as details of administration. Mr. Seward was
loyal, devoted, and always respectful to his chief.

The same cannot be said of Secretary Chase. He also had been a rival
of Lincoln for the Presidential nomination in 1860, and had gone into
the Cabinet feeling that his supporters from Ohio had made Lincoln's
nomination possible and that he was entitled to special consideration
for that reason. He supported Lincoln cordially through the campaign,
and among the first telegrams of congratulation received by the
President-elect was one from him which read, "I congratulate you and
thank God. The great object of my wishes and labors for nineteen years
is accomplished in the overthrow of the slave power. The space is
now clear for the establishment of the policy of freedom on safe and
firm grounds. The lead is yours. The responsibility is great. May God
strengthen you for your great duties."

After January 1 following the election, Mr. Chase was invited to
Springfield, and upon his arrival the President-elect waived all
ceremony and called upon him at his hotel. "I have done with you,"
said he, "what I would not have ventured to do with any other man in
the country,--sent for you to ask you whether you will accept the
appointment of Secretary of the Treasury without, however, being exactly
prepared to offer it to you." Concerning this conversation Mr. Chase
wrote to a friend as follows:

"He said he had felt bound to offer the position of Secretary of State
to Mr. Seward as the generally recognized leader of the Republican
party, intending, if he declined it, to offer it to me. He did not wish
that Mr. Seward should decline it, and was glad that he had accepted,
and now desired to have me take the place of Secretary of the Treasury."

Mr. Chase told the President-elect that he was not prepared to give
a definite answer because he wanted to ask the advice of friends and
be governed by the course of events. He valued the trust and its
opportunities, but was reluctant to leave the Senate. No further
communication took place between the two on the subject; but, assuming
that Mr. Chase had accepted, Lincoln sent his name to the Senate on
March 5 with those of other members of his Cabinet.

From the beginning of the administration Mr. Chase advocated a radical
policy; was very urgent in advocating the relief of Fort Sumter and
pushing the war, while Seward hung back. Mr. Chase's policy was
presented in a memorandum, with similar ones from other members of the
Cabinet, at the request of the President, in March, and reads as follows:

"If war is to be the consequence of an attempt to provision Fort
Sumter, war will just as certainly result from the attempt to maintain
possession of Fort Pickens.

"I am clearly in favor of maintaining Fort Pickens and just as clearly
in favor of provisioning Fort Sumter. If that attempt should be resisted
by military force, Fort Sumter should, in my judgment, be reinforced.

"If war is to be the result, I perceive no reason why it may not be
best begun by military resistance to the efforts of the administration
to sustain troops of the Union, stationed under the authority of the
government, in a fort of the Union, in the ordinary course of service."


From a photograph by M. B. Brady]

In the beginning Mr. Chase was a very strong supporter of General
McClellan and frequently called the attention of the latter to his
obligations to him. "The country was indebted to me," he wrote
McClellan, "in some considerable degree for the change of your
commission from Ohio into a commission of major-general of the army
of the Union;" and he wrote a friend the good news, "McClellan is
Commander-in-Chief! let us thank God and take courage!" but this was
his habit. He invariably worshipped the rising sun, and was usually
one of the first to turn his back upon old friends when they met
with misfortunes. He usually cultivated the closest relations with
those generals who had grievances against the administration. His
correspondence and his diary, as published by his chosen biographer, are
full of caustic and unkind criticisms of his chief. He received many
letters containing violent abuse of the President and his colleagues
in the government, and neither defended them nor rebuked the writers.
He records in his diary a conversation with an officer who, meeting
him, the Secretary of the Treasury, for the first time, was rude enough
to utter a gross insult directed at the President. In his comments
Mr. Chase seems to approve the remarks, and describes the President's
assailant as "well read and extremely intelligent." But Mr. Chase
never defended his colleagues when they were attacked. In reply to a
violent criticism from an enemy of the administration, he wrote, "I am
not responsible for the management of the war and have no voice in it,
except that I am not forbidden to make suggestions, and do so now and
then when I can't help it."

He soon lost his confidence in and admiration for McClellan, however,
and in his criticisms concerning his dilatory tactics was the most
bitter of all the Cabinet. He once drew up a paper, which he induced
several of his colleagues to sign, demanding McClellan's removal. He
continually offered advice and suggestions, and when they were not
accepted he usually took the trouble to record his resentment in his
diary or to express it in vigorous terms in a letter to some friend.

Chase was in favor of the unconditional emancipation of the slaves, and
when the President laid before the Cabinet the Emancipation Proclamation
he writes in his diary, "I said that I should give to such a measure my
cordial support, but I should prefer that no expression on the subject
of compensation should be made, and I thought that the measure of
emancipation could be better and more quickly accomplished by allowing
generals to organize and arm the slaves and by directing the commanders
of departments to proclaim emancipation within their districts as soon
as practicable. But I regarded this as so much better than inaction on
the subject that I could give it my entire support."

The President was not unaware of the disposition of Mr. Seward to
criticise himself and the members of his Cabinet, but placed so high
a value upon his ability and his importance to the government that he
treated him with the same patience that he did Mr. Stanton and others
who were critical and petulant concerning his deliberation and other
peculiarities. The extent to which this forbearance was exercised may
be illustrated by a note addressed to the President by his Secretary of
the Treasury, April 25, 1861, in which the latter was guilty of such
bad taste and impertinence that Lincoln would have been justified in
asking his instant resignation. Mr. Chase held the President practically
responsible for the demoralized condition of affairs in the country and
for all that had happened before his inauguration as well as since,
and said, "Let me beg of you to remember that the disunionists have
anticipated us in everything, and that as yet we have accomplished
nothing but the destruction of our own property. Let me beg of you to
remember also that it has been a darling object with the disunionists to
secure the passage of a secession ordinance by Maryland.... Save us from
this new humiliation. You alone can give the word."

Mr. Chase was in consultation with the President daily, he had been
consulted about every situation and movement, he was quite as familiar
with what had been done and what was intended as the President himself,
and the reasons which prompted him to address his chief in such a manner
can only be conjectured. It is believed that he was prompted to do so
by one of the many hostile critics of the administration, and wrote the
letter without realizing its tone and impertinence. But Lincoln received
it with his usual complacency, made no complaint to any one about it,
and calmly filed it away among his other correspondence.

Like Mr. Seward, he went into the Cabinet with the opinion that the
President was incapable and inexperienced, and that it was his duty to
support and assist him in the management of the government; but, unlike
Mr. Seward, he was never able to rid himself of a sense of his own
superiority. He had an honest conviction that he was more competent and
would make a much better President himself, and that if his advice were
accepted and his suggestions carried out, the war would be brought to a
close much sooner than otherwise. He lacked confidence in his colleagues
also and never lost an opportunity to express it. He considered himself
their superior in zeal, ability, and devotion to the general welfare.
He imagined that every disaster which occurred in the field was due to
the refusal of the President and the Secretary of War to carry out the
plans he suggested, and that every victory could be directly attributed
to his wise counsel. This was not known at the time. Had it been, the
people of the country would have been less charitable towards Mr. Chase.
His egotism, jealousy, contempt, and hostility towards Lincoln and
his fellow-members of the Cabinet were not fully disclosed until the
publication of his biography, which contained extracts from his diary
and copies of his voluminous correspondence.

The President would not allow the conduct or the disposition of
his Secretary of the Treasury to make the slightest difference
in his treatment of that official or to affect the policy of his
administration, for in his management of the finances, without previous
experience or preparation, Mr. Chase had shown genius equal to that
of Alexander Hamilton, unswerving integrity, and untiring industry.
So highly did Lincoln esteem his public services in this respect that
he would have forgiven him anything; and Mr. Chase not only had his
constant support, but he was less interfered with in the administration
of his department than any other member of the Cabinet.

Mr. Chase began a serious and systematic canvass for the Presidential
nomination as early as the fall of 1863, and although he continued
to delude himself and assure his friends that he was indifferent to
advancement and anxious only for the public good, he found plenty of
leisure in the midst of his arduous duties and immense responsibilities
to write hundreds of letters to friends in different parts of the Union
pointing out the mistakes of the President and leaving the irresistible
conclusion that he was the only man capable of saving the country. Many
of these letters are published in his biography, and it is inexplicable
that he preserved the documentary evidence of his treachery, and even
more remarkable that his family thus exposed him to public censure and

Although Lincoln had the full confidence of the loyal people of the
North, many disappointed politicians and other citizens in different
parts of the country were dissatisfied with his management of affairs.
The critics naturally gravitated together and sought to organize a
movement to prevent his renomination. They found it difficult to contend
against the popularity of the President, and looked among the discordant
elements for a standard-bearer. Neither in Congress nor in the army
was there any one who was willing to undertake the hopeless task until
some of the leaders consulted Mr. Chase and, to their surprise, found
him so indiscreet and disloyal as to encourage their opposition to the
administration of which he was a member, and so foolish as to believe
that he was strong enough to lead them to victory.

Mr. Chase fell willingly into the trap, although he continued to protest
his loyalty and attachment to Lincoln. His only excuse was that the
President's intellect and capacity for government were inferior to his
own, and in its great emergency his beloved country needed the strongest
man. He wrote his son-in-law, Governor Sprague, of Rhode Island, "If
I were controlled by merely personal sentiments I would prefer the
re-election of Mr. Lincoln to that of any other man, but I think a man
of different qualities from those the President has will be needed for
the next four years."

President Lincoln was fully informed concerning every movement Mr. Chase
made, for the latter was surrounded by false friends who were willing
to destroy him. However, he rebuked the tale-bearers and discouraged all
conversation concerning the ambition of his Secretary of the Treasury,
and when the criticisms uttered by Mr. Chase of himself and the members
of his Cabinet were brought to his attention, he declined to listen to

"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. I am entirely indifferent as to his
success or failure in these schemes as long as he does his duty at the
head of the Treasury Department." He appointed Chase's partisans and
wire-pullers to office as fast as the latter proposed them, although
he knew perfectly well what he was doing. He was more amused than
otherwise at the protestations of his own friends; but all the time he
was conscious that he had every reason for magnanimity. With his usual
political perspicuity, he was perfectly confident of his own nomination
and re-election, and recognized that Chase was daily making mistakes
that were fatal to his own political prospects. He endeavored to conceal
his knowledge, and avoided explanations from his Secretary of the
Treasury until the publication of a secret circular in the Washington
newspapers signed by Senator Pomeroy, of Kansas, compelled Mr. Chase to
allude to the subject. It was a spiteful, unjust, and untruthful attack
upon the President, and proposed the nomination of Mr. Chase as his
successor, appealing to patriotic citizens to organize in his support
and correspond with the chairman of his committee.

Mr. Chase at once disavowed all knowledge of or responsibility for this
circular, but explained that he had yielded to the urgent solicitations
of friends and had consented to be a candidate for the Presidential
nomination. "If there is anything in my action or position which in
your judgment will prejudice the public interest under my charge, I
beg you to say so. I do not wish to administer the Treasury Department
one day without your entire confidence. For yourself I cherish sincere
respect and esteem and, permit me to add, affection."

The next day the President acknowledged the receipt of this letter and
promised to answer it more fully later, which he did, saying,--

"... My knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy's letter having been made public came
to me only the day you wrote; but I had, in spite of myself, known of
its existence several days before. I have not yet read it, and I think
I shall not. I was not shocked or surprised by the appearance of the
letter, because I had had knowledge of Mr. Pomeroy's committee, and of
secret issues which I supposed came from it, and of secret agents who I
supposed were sent out by it, for several weeks. I have known just as
little of these things as my friends have allowed me to know. They bring
the documents to me, but I do not read them: they tell me what they
think fit to tell me, but I do not inquire for more....

"Whether you shall remain at the head of the Treasury Department is a
question which I will not allow myself to consider from any stand-point
other than my judgment of the public service, and, in that view, I do
not perceive occasion for a change."

If anything was needed to complete the collapse of the plans of Mr.
Chase, the reputation of the man who signed the circular was sufficient.
As fast as conventions were held delegations were instructed for
Lincoln. The Republican members of the Ohio Legislature were so fearful
lest they might be suspected of sympathizing with the ambition of Mr.
Chase that they held a caucus and unanimously endorsed the President.
Even little Rhode Island, supposed to be a pocket borough absolutely
controlled by its Governor, who was a son-in-law of Mr. Chase, bolted
and declared for Lincoln. The Secretary of the Treasury, left without
a supporter in the Republican party, sought consolation from the
Democrats, but they repudiated him and selected as their candidate
General McClellan, a man who had been alternately eulogized and
anathematized by him.

The retirement of Mr. Chase from the Cabinet was due to his
determination to control the patronage of the Treasury Department in
the State of New York without reference to the wishes of Mr. Morgan and
Mr. Harris, the Senators from that State. There was also friction over
Treasury appointments in other parts of the country. Mr. Chase's failure
as a Presidential candidate made him very irritable, and whenever the
President or any member of the Cabinet offered the slightest opposition
to his plans or wishes, he showed so much temper that it was impossible
to get along with him except by conceding all his demands. Lincoln,
valuing his services in the Treasury so highly, endeavored to gratify
him as far as possible, and assured other members of his Cabinet
that, as Mr. Chase's ability, industry, and integrity were beyond
question, he had a right to select men for whose proper conduct he was
responsible. But when Mr. Chase invaded the political provinces of the
members of the Senate, the President found it difficult to reconcile
the differences, and on two occasions the Secretary of the Treasury
tendered his resignation rather than yield what he considered to be
his right to select all of his subordinates. Maunsell B. Field, the
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, quotes Lincoln as saying, "I went
directly up to him [Chase] with the resignation in my hand, and putting
my arm around his neck, said, 'Here is a paper with which I wish to have
nothing to do. Take it back and be reasonable.' I had to plead with him
a long time, but I finally succeeded, and heard nothing more of that

But this state of affairs could not endure. There came an occasion upon
which the President was not able to give way, and when the two New York
Senators objected to the appointment of the same Maunsell B. Field as
Assistant Treasurer of New York, he was compelled to recognize their
wishes. He wrote Mr. Chase, "As the proverb goes, no man knows so well
where the shoe pinches as he who wears it. I do not think Mr. Field
a very proper man for the place, but I would trust your judgment and
forego this were the greater difficulty out of the way.... Strained
as I already am at this point, I do not think that I can make this
appointment in the direction of still greater strain." But Mr. Chase
felt that the President was acting badly and must be disciplined, and so
he resigned again. To submit to Mr. Chase under the circumstances would
be to abdicate in his favor and to offend his loyal supporters in New
York; hence, without hesitation, he wrote Mr. Chase as follows: "Of all
I have said in commendation of your ability and fidelity I have nothing
to unsay, yet you and I have reached a point of mutual embarrassment
in our official relations which it seems cannot be overcome or longer
sustained consistently with the public service."

Mr. Chase was taken entirely by surprise. He supposed that the
President, like himself, believed that his presence in the Treasury
Department was indispensable to the salvation of the government.
Governor Todd, of Ohio, was nominated as his successor, but declined,
and the President then sent to the Senate the nomination of William
Pitt Fessenden, a Senator from Maine and chairman of the Committee on
Finance, entirely without that gentleman's knowledge.

After the President's secretary had left for the Capitol with the
nomination, Mr. Fessenden appeared at the White House and, after
preliminary conversation, suggested the appointment of Hugh McCulloch,
who had served with great ability since the beginning of the war as
Comptroller of the Currency. Lincoln listened to his eulogy of Mr.
McCulloch with a gentle smile, and then informed him that he had already
sent his own name to the Senate. Mr. Fessenden protested and declared
that he would decline.

"If you decline," replied the President, "you must do it in open day,
for I cannot recall the nomination."

The significance and appropriateness of Mr. Fessenden's nomination
to succeed Mr. Chase was immediately recognized as a _coup d'état_
on the part of the President, and the former could not decline the
responsibility. He served for only a few months, however, and was
succeeded by Hugh McCulloch.

Mr. Chase could not suppress his sense of injury or cease talking
about it. After he left the Cabinet, his criticisms of the President
personally and the administration of the government became more frequent
and bold than ever; but as soon as the death of Chief-Justice Taney of
the Supreme Court was announced, he immediately claimed the vacancy.
Notwithstanding all that had occurred, he was willing to forgive and
forget, provided the President would make him Chief-Justice. Samuel
Bowles, editor of the _Springfield Republican_, writes on December 4,
1864, two months after Taney's death, "Chase is going around peddling
his grief in private ears and sowing dissatisfaction about Lincoln.
Oh, how little great men can be!" The President at once made up his
mind to appoint Mr. Chase, but would not announce his intention until
he had heard the views of every Republican of importance. In the mean
time Mr. Chase was appealing to his friends for support and endorsement
and prophesying disasters for the government unless his appointment was
made. One day Mr. Nicolay brought the President a letter from Mr. Chase.

"What is it about?" inquired Lincoln.

"Simply a kind and friendly letter."

"File it with the other recommendations," was the laconic reply.

On December 6, when the Senate met, Mr. Chase's nomination appeared
among others. It was written out in Lincoln's own hand instead of upon
a printed blank, as was customary. The nomination was confirmed without
reference to a committee, and the same evening Mr. Chase wrote the
President a very grateful acknowledgment. "Be assured," he said, "that
I apprize your confidence and good-will more than any nomination to

Lincoln afterwards told Mr. Boutwell that he never had any intention
of refusing the office to Mr. Chase. "There were three reasons why he
should be appointed and one reason why he should not be," said the
President. "In the first place, he occupies a larger space in the public
mind with reference to the office than any other person. Then we want
a man who will sustain the Legal Tender Act and the Proclamation of
Emancipation. We cannot ask a candidate what he would do, and if we did
and he should answer we should only despise him for it. But Chase wants
to be President, and if he does not give that up it will be a great
injury to him and a great injury to me. He can never be President."

Among the most urgent friends of Mr. Chase were Senator Sumner and
Representative Alley, of Massachusetts, who went to Washington to plead
with the President in his behalf.

"We found, to our dismay," said Mr. Alley, "that the President had
heard of the bitter criticisms of Mr. Chase upon himself and his
administration. Mr. Lincoln urged many of Mr. Chase's defects, to
discover, as we afterwards learned, how his objection could be answered.
We were both discouraged and made up our minds that the President did
not mean to appoint Mr. Chase. It really seemed too much to expect of
poor human nature. But early one morning in the following December I
went to the White House, found the President in his library, and was
cordially received. As I entered he made to me this declaration:

"'I have something to tell you that will make you happy. I have just
sent Mr. Chase word that he is to be appointed Chief-Justice, and you
are the first man I have told of it.'

"I said, 'Mr. President, this is an exhibition of magnanimity and
patriotism that could hardly be expected of any one. After what he has
said against your administration, which has undoubtedly been reported
to you, it was hardly to be expected that you would bestow the most
important office within your gift on such a man.'

"His quaint reply was, 'Although I may have appeared to you and to Mr.
Sumner to have been opposed to Chase's appointment, there never has been
a moment since the breath left old Taney's body that I did not conceive
it to be the best thing to do to appoint Mr. Chase to that high office;
and to have done otherwise I should have been recreant to my convictions
of duty to the Republican party and to the country.'

"I repeated again my sense of his magnanimity and his patriotism in
making the appointment.

"He replied, 'As to his talk about me, I do not mind that. Chase is, on
the whole, a pretty good fellow and a very able man. His only trouble is
that he has "the White House fever" a little too bad, but I hope this
may cure him and that he will be satisfied.'"

One would suppose, after this exhibition of magnanimity on the part
of the President, that he would escape the criticism of Mr. Chase at
least, but the latter still considered himself the inspired critic
of the administration and sought the Democratic nomination for the
Presidency. Nor was this all. His decisions upon the bench were in
direct contradiction to the positions he had taken as a member of the
Cabinet. He had criticised the President for his weakness in refusing to
attack the doctrine of State rights, yet, on the first opportunity, he
appeared as the judicial champion and defender of that doctrine; from
his place on the bench he declared unconstitutional the Legal Tender Act
which he had himself assisted in preparing and whose passage through the
House of Representatives had been secured by his personal influence.
While he was Secretary of the Treasury he sustained and encouraged Mr.
Stanton in the exercise of the "war power" more earnestly and took more
radical grounds than any other member of the Cabinet, yet when those
very transactions came before the Supreme Court he denounced them as
illegal and unjustified. The only explanation, the only apology that
could be made by the friends of Mr. Chase was that his mind was soured
by disappointment. He was a man of unbounded ambition, he had been
working all his life to become President, he was convinced of his own
great talents, and could not reconcile himself to disappointment.

President Lincoln's character and methods are nowhere better illustrated
than in the story of his relations with Edwin M. Stanton, his
great Secretary of War, a man of intense personality, of arbitrary
disposition, impetuous in action, impatient under restraint, and
intolerant of opposition. Combined with these qualities Mr. Stanton had
great learning, unselfish patriotism, and conscientious convictions
of duty. He was a native of Ohio, a graduate of Kenyon College, and
when still young in years attained a high rank in the practice of his
profession of the law, making his head-quarters first at Pittsburgh and
in 1856 at Washington. He was born and bred in Democratic principles,
but had a profound hatred of slavery, and during the administration of
President Buchanan was pronounced in his opposition to the disunion
schemes of the Southern politicians.

Shortly after the election in 1860, when the situation at Washington
was becoming critical, President Buchanan sought his advice, and Mr.
Stanton prepared an argument to prove that a State could be coerced into
remaining in the Union. A few weeks later Mr. Buchanan called him into
his Cabinet as Attorney-General, and he immediately joined with the
loyal members of the Cabinet and the Republican leaders in Congress in
vigorous efforts to save the Union. But after Lincoln was inaugurated
Mr. Stanton became the most scornful and unsparing critic of the new
administration. He called the President an imbecile, charged Cameron
with corruption, and declared that the administration was treating
the treasure of the nation as booty to be divided among thieves. He
predicted disaster in every direction; he declared that in less than
thirty days Jefferson Davis would be in possession of Washington, and
used the most intemperate and unjust language that his lips could frame
in his comments upon the character and the conduct of the President and
his advisers. Therefore, when he was invited to succeed Mr. Cameron,
the chief object of his detestation and attack, he was placed in a
peculiar situation, but was broad-minded enough to appreciate Lincoln's
magnanimity, and accepted the war portfolio as the highest duty that
could be assigned to a citizen. He wrote ex-President Buchanan, "My
accession to my present position was quite as sudden and unexpected
as the confidence you bestowed upon me in calling me to your Cabinet.
And the responsible trust was accepted in both instances from the same
motives and will be executed with the same fidelity to the Constitution
and the laws." In another letter he wrote, "I knew that everything that
I cherish and hold dear would be sacrificed by accepting office, but I
thought I might help to save the country, and for that I was willing to

When some one objected to Stanton's appointment on account of his
ungovernable temper, and stated that he was in the habit of jumping up
and down when he lost his patience, Lincoln replied,--

"Well, if he gets to jumping too much, we will treat him as they used to
treat a minister I knew out West. He would get so excited and wrought up
at revival meetings that they had to put bricks in his pockets to keep
him down. But I guess we will let Stanton jump a while first."

Lincoln and his new Secretary of War had met before, and the President
had no reason to be friendly towards him. The story is told in the
chapter relating to Lincoln's legal career. But the President was
willing to submerge his personal feelings in his patriotism in order to
secure the support and assistance of a man for whose ability, energy,
and patriotism he had the highest respect. He selected Mr. Stanton for
the same reason that he retained McClellan in command and postponed the
Emancipation Proclamation. He was not thinking of himself, but of his
country. He was not seeking a friend or an agreeable companion, but
a man of executive ability, iron will, stern integrity, and physical
endurance to relieve him from what was becoming an unendurable burden;
for, up to this time, he had borne almost alone the responsibility
for military movements in the field as well as the organization and
equipment of the army. Months before he had foreseen that Mr. Cameron
must soon leave the Cabinet, and had been on the lookout for a suitable
Secretary of War. With the silent sagacity and foresight that were
among his most remarkable characteristics, he had searched the list of
public men, and, finding no one available among his friends, had gone
over into the ranks of his opponents and had chosen perhaps the most
unfriendly and vigorous critic of his administration. He had learned
of Mr. Stanton's tremendous energy and keen perceptions and recognized
at once how useful those traits would be in the War Department; while
his fearless candor, his indifference to criticism, and the public
confidence in his integrity were qualities equally valuable under the

Within a few weeks he was satisfied of the accuracy of his judgment
in making the selection, and their daily intercourse brought the two
men into relations which could not have existed between men of weaker
character. Unlike Mr. Chase, his colleague of the Treasury Department,
Mr. Stanton had the highest admiration for Lincoln's ability and
judgment, and his imperious will and stubborn convictions would not have
yielded to any one else. On the other hand, no one appreciated so much
as Lincoln the genuine worth, the deep sincerity, and the rare ability
to organize and execute that existed in his new Secretary of War. There
were continual differences of opinion between them. Men of strong
character seldom think alike, and with his peculiar temperament and
impulsive disposition Mr. Stanton could not have served under a chief
less amiable and considerate than Lincoln.

There is no doubt that the President's patience was often sorely tried,
but the same spirit that governed him when he invited Mr. Stanton into
the Cabinet continued to recognize the necessity of toleration and
forbearance. While he usually yielded to his War Secretary in details,
in matters of supreme importance he invariably insisted upon following
his own judgment, and with a gentle but unyielding firmness compelled
Mr. Stanton to submit to his will. For example, Mr. Stanton refused to
carry out an order of the President concerning the enlistment of rebel
prisoners of war who wished to enter the service of the Union, and
when the order was repeated, refused a second time. General Fry, the
Provost-Marshal-General, who was present at the interview, describes the
incident as follows:

"'Now, Mr. President, those are the facts, and you must see that your
order cannot be executed,' exclaimed Stanton.

"Lincoln sat upon a sofa with his legs crossed, and did not say a word
until the Secretary's last remark. Then he said, in a somewhat positive
tone, 'Mr. Secretary, I reckon you'll have to execute the order.'

"Stanton replied with asperity, 'Mr. President, I cannot do it.'

"Lincoln fixed his eyes upon Stanton, and in a firm voice, and with an
accent that clearly showed his determination, he said, 'Mr. Secretary,
it will have to be done.'

"Stanton realized that he was overmatched. He had made a square issue
with the President and had been defeated, notwithstanding the fact that
he was in the right. Upon an intimation from him I withdrew and did
not witness his surrender. A few minutes after I reached my office I
received instructions from the Secretary to carry out the President's

The President "always liked to get something on Stanton," as he used to
say. Judge Shellabarger, of Ohio, relates this incident:

"A young man in the army, Ben Tappan, wanted a transfer from the
volunteer service to the regular army, retaining his rank of Lieutenant
and with staff duty. There was some regulation against such transfer;
but Tappan's step-father, Frank Wright, thought it could be done. He
had been to Secretary Stanton, who was an uncle of Tappan by marriage,
and, on account of this so-called relationship, the Secretary declined
to act in the matter. Wright and I therefore went up to the White House
to see the President about it. After talking it over, Mr. Lincoln told
a story, the application of which was that the army was getting to be
all staff and no army, there was such a rush for staff duty by young
officers. However, he looked over Lieutenant Tappan's paper, heard
what Secretary Stanton had told us about his delicacy in transferring
Lieutenant Tappan against the regulation because of his relationship by
marriage. Then Mr. Lincoln wrote across the application something like
the following endorsement:

    "'Lieutenant Tappan, of ---- Regiment Volunteers, desires
    transfer to ---- Regiment, Regular service, and assigned
    to staff duty with present rank. If the only objection is
    Lieutenant Tappan's relationship to the Secretary of War, that
    objection is overruled.

        "'A. LINCOLN.'

"Of course this threw the responsibility of breaking the regulation on
Secretary Stanton. We never heard anything more about the transfer."

General Fry says, "A story has long been current that Lincoln sent
an application for office with a note to the Secretary of War,
directing that a letter of appointment be prepared for the man to the
office he sought; that the applicant returned to the President and
announced that Stanton refused to obey the order; that the President
looked disappointed, but merely expressed his regret at the result,
and remarked that he had not much influence with the administration.
The anecdote has generally been interpreted as meaning that Lincoln
could not control Stanton. The inference is erroneous. Lincoln, so
far as I could discover, was in every respect the actual head of the
administration, and whenever he chose to do so he controlled Stanton as
well as all the other Cabinet ministers."

Ex-Representative John A. Kasson, of Iowa, says, "Numerous officers in
the field had written me to have Colonel ----, of ---- Iowa Regiment,
promoted to be a brigadier-general. The colonel deserved the promotion,
but it was difficult to obtain. At last there came an Iowa resignation,
and I went to the President, who signed an order to the Secretary of
War to let Colonel ---- have the commission in place of the resigning
brigadier. Mr. Stanton was seated on a sofa talking with a friend. I
told him my errand, and handed him the President's order. He glanced at
it, and said, in an angry tone,--

"'I shan't do it, sir; I shan't do it!' and passed the paper up to his

"Utterly amazed at these words, and indignant at his tone, I inquired
why he refused to obey the President's order.

"'It isn't the way to do it, sir, and I shan't do it.'

"I was going on to speak of the merits of the officer and of the
proceeding, my wrath rising, when he cut me off with,--

"'I don't propose to argue the question with you, sir; I shan't do it.'

"Utterly indignant, I turned to the clerk and asked to withdraw the

"'Don't you let him have it, sir,' said Stanton; 'don't let him have it.'

"The clerk, whose hands were trembling like an Eastern slave before his
pasha, withdrew the document which he was in the act of giving to me. I
felt my indignation getting too strong for me, and, putting on my hat
and turning my back to the Secretary, I slowly went to the door, with
set teeth, saying to myself, 'As you will not hear me in your own forum,
you shall hear from me in mine.'

"A few days later, after recovering my coolness, I reported the affair
to the President. A look of vexation came over his face. Then he gave me
a positive order for the promotion of the colonel to be a brigadier, and
told me to take it over to the War Department. I replied that I could
not speak again with Mr. Stanton till he apologized for his insulting
manner to me on the previous occasion.

"'Oh,' said the President, 'Stanton has gone to Fortress Monroe and
Dana is acting. He will attend to it for you.'"


From a photograph by Brady]

Judge Usher, Lincoln's Secretary of the Interior, says, "Chief among his
great characteristics were his gentleness and humanity, and yet he did
not hesitate promptly to approve the sentences of Kennedy and Beall.
During the entire war there are but few other evidences to be found of a
willingness on his part that any one should suffer the penalty of death.
His great effort seemed to be to find some excuse, some palliation for
offences charged. He strove at all times to relieve the citizens on both
sides of the inconveniences and hardships resulting from the war. It has
often been reported that Secretary of War Stanton arbitrarily refused to
carry out his orders. In all such cases reported it will be found that
the President had given directions to him to issue permits to persons
who had applied to go through the lines into the insurgent districts.
The President said at one time, referring to Stanton's refusal to
issue the permits and the severe remarks made by the persons who were

"'I cannot always know whether a permit ought to be granted, and I want
to oblige everybody when I can, and Stanton and I have an understanding
that if I send an order to him that cannot be consistently granted, he
is to refuse it, which he sometimes does; and that led to a remark which
I made the other day to a man who complained of Stanton, that I hadn't
much influence with this administration, but expected to have more with
the next.'"

Mr. George W. Julian, a Representative in Congress, said, "I called on
the President respecting the appointments I had recommended under the
conscription law, and took occasion to refer to the failure of General
Frémont to get a command. He said he did not know where to place him,
and that it reminded him of the old man who advised his son to take a
wife, to which the young man responded, 'Whose wife shall I take?'

"At another time," said Mr. Julian, "a committee of Western men, headed
by Mr. Lovejoy, procured from the President an important order looking
to the exchange of Eastern and Western soldiers, with a view to more
effective work. Repairing to the office of the Secretary, Mr. Lovejoy
explained the scheme, as he had done before the President, but was met
by a flat refusal.

"'But we have the President's order, sir,' said Lovejoy.

"'Did Lincoln give you an order of that kind?' said Stanton.

"'He did, sir.'

"'Then he is a d--d fool,' said the irate Secretary.

"'Do you mean to say the President is a d--d fool?' asked Lovejoy in

"'Yes, sir, if he gave you such an order as that.'

"The bewildered Congressman from Illinois betook himself at once to the
President and related the result of his conference.

"'Did Stanton say I was a d--d fool?' asked Lincoln, at the close of the

"'He did, sir, and repeated it.'

"After a moment's pause, and looking up, the President said,--

"'If Stanton said I was a d--d fool, then I must be one, for he is
nearly always right, and generally says what he means. I will step over
and see him.'"

Mr. Stanton was entirely without a sense of humor, and was the only
member of the Cabinet who could not tolerate and could never understand
Lincoln's stories and the reasons for his frequent resort to comic
anecdotes and books of humor to relieve his mind from anxiety and the
terrible strain that was always upon him. He never told a story himself,
and would not waste his time listening to stories from others. With
his unsympathetic disposition and nerveless constitution he could not
understand the need of relaxation, and his serious mind regarded with
disapproval and even contempt the simple remedies which the President
applied as relief to his anxieties and care. Charles A. Dana, who was
Mr. Stanton's assistant in the War Department, referring to this fact in
his reminiscences, says,--

"The political struggle (November, 1864) had been most intense, and the
interest taken in it, both in the White House and in the War Department,
had been almost painful. I went over to the War Department about
half-past eight in the evening and found the President and Mr. Stanton
together in the Secretary's office. General Eckert, who then had charge
of the telegraph department of the War Office, was coming in continually
with telegrams containing election returns. Mr. Stanton would read them
and the President would look at them and comment upon them. Presently
there came a lull in the returns, and Mr. Lincoln called me up to a
place by his side.

"'Dana,' said he, 'have you ever read any of the writings of Petroleum
V. Nasby?'

"'No, sir,' I said. 'I have only looked at some of them, and they seemed
to me quite funny.'

"'Well,' said he, 'let me read you a specimen,' and, pulling out a thin
yellow-covered pamphlet from his breast-pocket, he began to read aloud.
Mr. Stanton viewed this proceeding with great impatience, as I could
see, but Mr. Lincoln paid no attention to that. He would read a page or
a story, pause to con a new election telegram, and then open the book
again and go ahead with a new passage. Finally Mr. Chase came in and
presently Mr. Whitelaw Reid, and then the reading was interrupted. Mr.
Stanton went to the door and beckoned me into the next room. I shall
never forget the fire of his indignation at what seemed to him to be
mere nonsense. The idea that when the safety of the republic was thus
at issue, when the control of an empire was to be determined by a few
figures brought in by the telegraph, the leader, the man most deeply
concerned, not merely for himself but for his country, could turn aside
to read such balderdash and to laugh at such frivolous jests, was to his
mind something most repugnant and damnable. He could not understand,
apparently, that it was by the relief which these jests afforded to the
strain of mind under which Lincoln had so long been living and to the
natural gloom of a melancholy and desponding temperament--this was Mr.
Lincoln's prevailing characteristic--that the safety and sanity of his
intelligence were maintained and preserved."



When President Lincoln, confronted by the infirmities and incapacity
of General Scott and the jealousy and rivalry of the younger officers
of the army, was compelled to assume the direction of the conduct of
the war, he was entirely ignorant of military affairs, except for the
experience he had gained in his youth during the Black Hawk War, which,
however, was more of a frontier frolic than a serious campaign. His own
account of it is found in the autobiography he furnished to the press
after his nomination to the Presidency:

"Abraham joined a volunteer company, and to his own surprise was elected
captain of it. He says he has not since had any success in life which
gave him so much satisfaction. He went into the campaign, served nearly
three months, met the ordinary hardships of such an expedition, but was
in no battle."

We know from others that Lincoln was one of the first to enlist, and
that it was something besides ambition which led him to seek the
captaincy of his company. During his first year in Illinois he worked
for a time in a saw-mill run by a man named Kirkpatrick, who promised
to buy him a cant-hook with which to move heavy logs. Lincoln offered
to move the logs with his own common handspike, provided Kirkpatrick
would give him in cash the two dollars which a cant-hook would cost.
Kirkpatrick agreed to do so, but never did, and Lincoln always bore him
a grudge. When the volunteers from Sangamon County assembled on the
green to elect their officers, Lincoln discovered that Kirkpatrick was
the only candidate for captain, and remarked to his friend and neighbor,

"Bill, I believe I can make Kirkpatrick pay me that two dollars he owes
me on the cant-hook or I'll run against him for captain."

So he and Green began immediately to "hustle" for votes, and when the
order was given for the men to assemble at the side of their favorite
candidate for captain, three-fourths of them came to Lincoln, and he led
them over the prairies and through the wilderness to the rendezvous. He
had no knowledge of military tactics and did not even know the order
to give. He used to describe his blunders with great amusement, and
one that he enjoyed particularly was a device to get his men through
a gate-way into an enclosure. They were marching across a field four
abreast, and Lincoln could not remember the proper command for changing
them into single file, "or getting the company through the gate
endwise," as he described it. "So, as we came near the gate, I shouted,
'The company is dismissed for two minutes, when it will fall in again on
the other side of the gate.'"

This ingenuity did not save him from disgrace on other occasions, and
once he was severely punished by being deprived of his sword on account
of a violation of discipline. But these punishments did not seem to
diminish the respect in which he was held by his company. They were
proud of his wit, his strength, and his learning, and throughout their
lives they remained devotedly attached to him because of his personal
qualities. One day an Indian fugitive took refuge in the camp, and the
soldier frontiersmen, with more or less experience of the treachery and
cruelty of the savage, saw no reason why they should not put him out
of the way at once, especially as they had come out to kill Indians;
but Lincoln's humanity and sense of justice revolted at the murder of a
helpless savage, and, at the risk of his life, he defied the entire camp
and saved the Indian.

At the end of their term of service his company was mustered out, and
most of the volunteers, seeing no prospect of glory or profit, started
towards home; but Captain Lincoln re-enlisted the same day as a private,
and often spoke of the satisfaction he felt when relieved of the
responsibility of command. He served through the campaign. He was the
strongest man in the army and the best wrestler, with the exception of a
man named Thompson, who once threw him on the turf.

Black Hawk was captured through the treachery of his allies. Lincoln's
battalion was mustered out at Whitewater, Wisconsin, by Lieutenant
Robert Anderson, who, twenty-nine years later, was to stand with him
as the most interesting figure upon the national stage. A story that
Lincoln was mustered into the service by Jefferson Davis has been widely
published. It was a natural mistake, however, because Davis, then a
lieutenant in the army, was stationed at a fort near Rock Island, but
during the summer of the Black Hawk War he was on leave of absence
and did not join his regiment until long after the Sangamon County
volunteers had returned to their homes. However, Lincoln was to see and
meet several interesting characters, including Colonel Zachary Taylor,
whom he afterwards supported for President, General Winfield Scott,
another Whig candidate for the Presidency and the commander of the
army at the beginning of his administration, Lieutenant Albert Sidney
Johnston, afterwards a Confederate general, and others of fame.

Lincoln never permitted any one to call him "captain," and when in
Congress in 1848 he made a political speech in which he ridiculed
the efforts of the friends of General Cass to obtain some political
advantage from that eminent gentleman's services in a similar capacity.
He said,--

"If General Cass went in advance of me picking whortleberries, I guess
I surpassed him in charges on the wild onions. If he saw any live,
fighting Indians, it was more than I did, but I had a good many bloody
struggles with the mosquitoes; and although I never fainted from loss
of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry. If ever I should
conclude to doff whatever our Democratic friends may suppose there is
of black-cockade Federalism about me, and thereupon they shall take me
up as their candidate for the Presidency, I protest that they shall not
make fun of me, as they have of General Cass, by attempting to write me
into a military hero."

When compelled to supervise the enlisting and equipment of a great army
and plan campaigns that were to determine the destiny and the happiness
and prosperity of the people, he was entirely without preparation or
technical knowledge of the science of war, and could only rely upon his
common sense and apply to military affairs the experience he had gained
in politics. His talent developed rapidly, however, until he became
recognized as the ablest strategist of the war, not excepting Grant or
Sherman. His correspondence with his generals, his memoranda concerning
the movements of troops, his instructions to the Secretary of War, the
plans he suggested, and the comments and criticisms he made upon those
of others indicate the possession of a military genius which in actual
service would have given him a high reputation. In times of crisis his
generals found him calm and resourceful; in great emergencies he was
prompt, cool, and clear-sighted; and under the shock of defeat he was
brave, strong, and hopeful.

Soon after his inauguration he began to realize the magnitude of
the struggle and the responsibilities which rested upon him. He was
convinced that the government was in the right, but determined that
there should be no mistake on this point; therefore he gave the South
every liberty and indulgence that could possibly be granted. He
determined that the "overt act" should be committed by the South, that
there should be no excuse to accuse the government of "invasion" or an
attempt at "subjugation," and for that reason he delayed the attempt
to reinforce and provision Fort Sumter. When the public understood the
moral issues involved he gave the order, because he knew that he would
be supported by a united North. In his inaugural address he said, "In
your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the
momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You
can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors." And that
solemn pledge he endeavored to fulfil even at the risk of Northern
criticism and the loss of the military posts at Charleston and other
points in the South.

It was a disheartening and almost impossible situation for the new
administration. President Lincoln and General Scott were left almost
entirely dependent upon strangers and men of no experience who had
been appointed for political reasons rather than for capacity or
knowledge. Nearly all the trained officers of the army resigned as
fast as their native States seceded; officers of Northern birth and
sympathies had been sent to distant posts so that they could not
interfere with the treasonable designs of Secretary Floyd during the
Buchanan administration. Confusion, corruption, and complications were
unavoidable, and caused the President unutterable anxiety and distress.
Ignorance and zeal often provoked more trouble than could be corrected,
and jealousy, rivalry, and partisanship made matters worse.

The political problems alone would have been as great a load as mortal
man might have been expected to carry, but his perplexities were
increased, his time occupied, and his patience sorely tested by such
an undignified and unpatriotic clamor for offices as has never been
exceeded in the history of our government. The Democratic party had
been in power for many years. Every position in the gift of President
Buchanan had been filled with a Democrat, many of them Southern
sympathizers, and now hordes of hungry Republicans besieged the White
House demanding appointments. The situation was described by the
President in a single ejaculation. A Senator who noticed an expression
of anxiety and dejection upon his face, inquired,--

"Has anything gone wrong, Mr. President? Have you heard bad news from
Fort Sumter?"

"No," answered the President, solemnly. "It's the post-office at
Jonesville, Missouri."

The area of the country was vast; the seat of war stretched from the
Atlantic to the Missouri River, with a strip of States undecided
in their purpose which must be carefully handled to prevent them
from joining the Confederacy. With inexperienced and incompetent
commanders, a divided Cabinet, public clamor dinning in his ears, and
his mind harassed by other cares and perplexities, it was difficult to
develop a military policy and plan a campaign for the suppression of
the rebellion. Even if the situation had been divested of political
significance, it would have taxed the genius of a Napoleon. The coast
line to be protected was more than three thousand six hundred miles
long, the frontier line was nearly eight thousand miles, and the
field of operation covered an area larger than the whole of Europe.
Furthermore, it was a political war, and everything must be planned
with a view to political consequences. It was not a struggle between
rival powers, nor for conquest, but for the preservation of the Union,
and from the beginning President Lincoln appreciated that the common
interests and the general welfare required that the integrity of the
country be preserved with as little loss and as little punishment as
possible to either side. Whatever damage was done must be repaired at
the end by a reunited country; whatever was destroyed was a common loss.
The war was a family affair, in which the sufferings and sorrows and
material losses must be equally shared. With all these considerations
in his mind, he undertook to guide the government in such a way as to
prevent the dissolution of the Union and at the same time accomplish
the overthrow of the slave power and the removal of that curse from the
American people.

General Scott, like General Sherman, had accurately measured the
requirements of the situation. Their experience and military instincts
taught them that it was to be a long and a tedious struggle, and they
urged deliberation and preparation as absolutely necessary to success.
But, when General Sherman's opinion was made public, he was called a
lunatic, and General Scott's practical plan of military operations
was defeated by public ridicule. General Sherman demanded two hundred
thousand men before attempting a campaign in the Mississippi Valley.
General Scott called for only one hundred thousand men, but said they
would be required for three years, and advised that they be distributed
among ten or fifteen healthy camps for four months until they could be
organized, drilled, and acclimated; then, after the navy had blockaded
the harbors of the Southern coast, he proposed to move his army down
both banks of the Mississippi River, establishing strong posts at
frequent intervals to protect that stream until New Orleans was captured
and occupied; he then proposed to move his army gradually eastward from
the Mississippi and southward from the Potomac, slowly closing in upon
the Confederacy until its military power was paralyzed. Notwithstanding
the sorrows and anxieties of the North, the people howled with derision
at this thorough, practical plan of the old veteran. The comic papers
took it up and published cartoons representing a monster serpent with
General Scott's head, coiled around the cotton States, and they called
it "Scott's Anaconda." In the same breath they demanded a battle. "On to
Richmond," they cried, and President Lincoln yielded to the clamor. The
battle of Bull Run was fought, with its disastrous consequences. The
lesson was valuable, as it taught the President that public opinion was
not a safe guide to follow in military operations.

It must be remembered that in the midst of the most appalling situation
in American history Lincoln stood practically alone because of a divided
Cabinet and the age and infirmities of General Scott, then seventy-five
years old, quite feeble in body and irritable of temper. The President
had great respect for him and confidence in his patriotism and military
judgment. He had supported Scott for President in 1852, had been in
correspondence with him before the inauguration, and had encouraged him
in his futile efforts to check the treasonable transactions of Secretary
Floyd and other conspirators; but he soon discovered that the venerable
warrior was in no condition to perform labor or assume responsibility.
Yet he was reluctant to do anything to wound his pride or reflect upon
his present ability. This increased the embarrassment and difficulties
of the situation. General Scott recognized and appreciated Lincoln's
consideration, but refused to resign or retire until finally driven from
his post by McClellan.

At the White House, shortly after the battle of Bull Run, the old
veteran, after listening to criticisms directed at the President for
permitting the Union army to suffer defeat, broke out in his wrath,--

"Sir, I am the greatest coward in America. I will prove it. I fought
this battle, sir, against my judgment; I think the President of the
United States ought to remove me to-day for doing it. As God is my
judge, after my superiors had determined to fight it, I did all in my
power to make the army efficient. I deserve removal because I did not
stand up when my army was not in a condition for fighting and resist to
the last."

"Your conversation seems to imply that I forced you to fight this
battle," suggested the President.

"I have never served a President who has been kinder to me than you
have been," replied the general, avoiding the question.

The battle of Bull Run was fought to gratify the politicians. It was
the only time the President yielded to public clamor, and he always
regretted it. It was a political movement. When he assembled a council
of war five days previous, the commanders declared that they had force
enough to overcome the enemy; but General Scott was positive that such
a victory could not be decisive, and advised a postponement of active
hostilities for a few months until the army could be placed in a better
condition. The Cabinet and the military committees of Congress feared
that public sentiment in the North would not consent to the delay, and
that the Confederate leaders would make such good use of it that the
results of an offensive movement would be more doubtful then than now,
hence an order for the advance was given. The President did not rebuke
General Scott for his indignant outbreak, because he felt that his words
were true.

The President suffered great anxiety during that eventful Sunday, but
exhibited his usual self-control, and attended church with Mrs. Lincoln.
After his noon dinner he walked over to the head-quarters of the army,
where he found General Scott taking a nap, and woke him up to ask his
opinion. The old gentleman was not only hopeful but confident, for one
of his aides had arrived with a report that General McDowell was driving
everything before him. The President's mind was relieved and about four
o'clock he went out to drive. At six o'clock Secretary Seward staggered
over the threshold of the White House and nervously asked for the
President. When told that he was driving, he whispered to the private

"Tell no one, but the battle is lost; McDowell is in full retreat, and
calls on General Scott to save the capital."

When the President drove up to the portico a few minutes later he
listened in silence to the message, but his head hung low as he crossed
the White House grounds to head-quarters. There the disaster was
confirmed, and he conferred long and anxiously with General Scott and
Secretary Cameron as to the next duty. Towards midnight he returned to
the White House and heard the accounts of members of Congress and others
who had gone out to witness the battle. His long frame lay listlessly
upon a couch, but his mind was active, his calmness and resolution had
not been disturbed, and before he slept that night he had planned the
reorganization of the army, and from that time undertook the direction
of military as well as civil and diplomatic affairs; consulting freely
with Senators and Representatives and officers of the army as he did
with his constitutional advisers, but relying upon his own judgment more
and more.

A gleam of hope arose in his mind that he might be relieved of much
detail by George B. McClellan, a brilliant young officer, who had been
called to Washington and appointed a major-general.

McClellan was a graduate of West Point, had served with distinction in
the Mexican War, had been a member of a military commission to inspect
the armies of Europe, had observed the conduct of the Crimean War, had
been engaged in various scientific and diplomatic duties, had resigned
from the army to become Chief Engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad
when only thirty-one years old, was elected its Vice-President at
thirty-two, and made President of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad
when he was thirty-four. He had made a brief but dashing campaign
in West Virginia, and was credited with saving that State to the
Union. His brilliant professional attainments, the executive ability
he had displayed in railway management, combined with attractive
personal qualities and influential social connections, made him the
most conspicuous officer in the Union army and naturally excited
the confidence of the President, who gave him a cordial welcome and
intrusted him with the most responsible duties, making him second only
to General Scott in command.

Unfortunately, however, the honors which were showered upon McClellan
turned his head, and the young commander not only failed to comprehend
the situation and his relations to the President and General Scott, but
very soon developed signs of vanity and insubordination which caused
the President great concern. He saw himself followed and flattered by
statesmen, politicians, and soldiers of twice his age and experience.
The members of the Cabinet and even the President himself came to his
residence to ask his advice, and the venerable hero of the Mexican
War deferred to his judgment and accepted his suggestions without
hesitation. McClellan was the idol of the army and a magnet that
attracted all the interest, influence, and ambition that were centred at
Washington at that period of the war. His state of mind and weakness of
character were exhibited in letters he wrote to his family at this time,
which, by a lamentable error of judgment, were afterwards printed in his

On July 27 he wrote his wife, "I find myself 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."

A little later he wrote, "They give me my way in everything, full swing
and unbounded confidence. Who would have thought when we were married
that I should so soon be called upon to save my country?" Ten days after
his appointment he declared, "I would cheerfully take the dictatorship
and agree to lay down my life when the country is saved."

Very soon, however, the tone of his letters began to change. The
President, General Scott, and the Cabinet had evidently begun to detect
his weakness and egotism and no longer accepted his own estimate of his
ability and importance. To the President's profound disappointment, he
realized within a few days that McClellan was not a staff that could
be leaned upon, while General Scott's admiration and confidence in his
young lieutenant were shaken at their first interview.

With the air of an emperor McClellan began to issue extraordinary
demands upon the President, the War Department, and the Treasury. It
soon became apparent that he desired and expected to be placed in
command of the greatest army of history; that he intended to organize
and equip it according to the most advanced scientific theories; and
when the President, the Secretary of War, and General Scott objected
to the magnitude of his plans, pointed out their impracticability,
and urged him to do something to check the alarming movements of the
Confederates, he was seized with a delusion which remained with him to
the end, that they were endeavoring to thwart and embarrass him. The
tone of his letters to his wife was radically changed.

"I am here in a terrible place," he said; "the enemy have from three to
four times my force; the President and the old General will not see the
true state of affairs."

"I am weary of all this," he said a week later, "and disgusted with this
administration,--perfectly sick of it;" and he declared that he remained
at the head of affairs only because he had become convinced that he
was alone the salvation of the country. He expressed especial contempt
for the President, and said, "There are some of the greatest geese in
the Cabinet I have ever seen,--enough to tax the patience of Job." The
incompetence and stupidity of the President, he wrote, was "sickening in
the extreme, and makes me feel heavy at heart when I see the weakness
and unfitness of the poor beings who control the destinies of this

He wrote other friends that his wisdom alone must save the country, that
he spent his time "trying to get the government to do its duty, and was
thwarted and deceived by these incapables at every turn." He demanded
that all recruits be sent to his army and that all supplies be issued
to him, as if the armies in the Mississippi Valley could take care of
themselves. He demanded that "the whole of the regular army, old and
new, be at once ordered to report here," and that the trained officers
be assigned to him. "It is the task of the Army of the Potomac to decide
the question at issue," he declared. When advice and suggestions were
offered him he rejected them contemptuously, and announced that whenever
orders were issued to him he exercised his own judgment as to obedience.

General McClellan's vanity and presumption might have been overlooked
by General Scott, but his insulting remarks could not be excused. Their
relations reached an acute stage in August, 1861, notwithstanding the
President's efforts at reconciliation. Again and again he apologized
for and explained away the rudeness of the younger officer towards his
superior; and General Scott, realizing the President's embarrassment,
begged to be relieved from active command because of his age and
infirmities. Perhaps it would have been wiser if the wishes of the aged
general had been complied with, for he was now practically helpless,
fretful, and forgetful, and his sensitiveness made it necessary to
consult him upon every proposition and admit him to every conference.
Finally, McClellan's contemptuous indifference, persistent disrespect,
and continual disobedience provoked General Scott beyond endurance, and
on the last day of October he asked that his name be placed on the list
of army officers retired from active service.

"For more than three years," he wrote, "I have been unable from a
hurt to mount a horse or to walk more than a few paces at a time and
that with much pain. Other and new infirmities, dropsy, and vertigo,
admonish me that repose of mind and body are necessary to add a little
more to a life already protracted much beyond the usual span of man."

Lincoln, however, continued to consult him, and in June, 1862, made a
visit to West Point for the purpose of asking his advice upon certain
military movements then in contemplation. General Scott outlived him,
and was the most distinguished figure at the obsequies of the martyred
President at New York City in April, 1865.

After General Scott's retirement McClellan assumed even greater
importance in his own eyes, and treated the President in the same
contemptuous manner; yet the latter's indulgence was inexhaustible,
and he would not even allow personal indignity to himself to interfere
with his relations with the commander of his army. He was accustomed
to visit army head-quarters and General McClellan's residence in the
most informal manner, entering both without notification of his coming,
and, if the general was not in, returning to the White House; but one
night in November, 1861, he called at General McClellan's residence on a
matter so important that he decided to await the latter's return from a
wedding. Although informed that the President had been waiting an hour,
McClellan went directly by the drawing-room upstairs, and when a servant
went to remind him that the President wished to see him, the general
sent down word that he was retiring and would like to be excused.
Lincoln did not mention the insult. No one could have detected any
difference in his treatment of General McClellan thereafter, except that
he never entered his house again, and after that date when he wanted
to see him sent for him to come to the Executive Mansion. On another
occasion when the young general treated him with similar arrogance,
Governor Dennison, of Ohio, and General Mitchell remonstrated, but the
President replied cheerfully,--

"Never mind; I will hold McClellan's horse if he will only bring us

But he did not bring success, and the public as well as both Houses
of Congress became very impatient about the idleness and delay of the
Army of the Potomac. McClellan's "All quiet on the Potomac" became a
slang phrase as notorious as General Butler's "contraband." Newspaper
artists and cartoonists made him the subject of ridicule, committees
of Senators and Representatives waited upon him, Legislatures passed
resolutions, but he was no more affected by those promptings than he had
been by the entreaties and admonitions of the President. When positive
orders were issued, McClellan refused to obey them, or obeyed them in
such a manner as to defeat their purpose. A committee of Congress was
appointed to make an investigation. The President began to lose his
patience, and declared that "if something were not done the bottom would
drop out of the whole affair. If McClellan did not want to use the army
he would like to borrow it, provided he could see how it could be made
to do something." McClellan replied that his forces were insufficient;
that he was outnumbered by the enemy. Finally, at a conference with the
Cabinet, Secretary Chase, who had been his most enthusiastic admirer,
but had lost all confidence in McClellan, asked the general point-blank
what he intended to do and when he intended to do it. McClellan refused
to answer the question unless the President ordered him to do so. The
latter, with his usual consideration, attempted to protect the general,
and in a conciliatory way asked whether he had resolved in his own mind
when he would be able to make a forward movement. McClellan replied in
the affirmative, but would give no further information. The President
urged him to do so, but he continued to refuse, whereupon the former

"Then I will adjourn the meeting."

The President waited a few weeks longer, and, as nothing was done,
issued his famous Special War Order No. 1, in which he ordered the
celebration of Washington's birthday, 1862, by a general movement of all
the land and naval forces of the United States; but even then McClellan
reported that he would be obliged to fall back until he could construct
a railway.

"What does this mean?" asked the President, when Secretary Stanton read
him the despatch.

"It means that it is a damn fizzle!" exclaimed the Secretary of War. "It
means that he does not intend to do anything."

The President then issued General War Order No. 2, reorganizing the Army
of the Potomac, and followed it with General War Order No. 3, which
directed a movement in ten days; but still McClellan blocked the way,
and continued to drill his troops, dig entrenchments, and write insolent
letters to the President and Secretary of War.

"Had I twenty thousand or even ten thousand fresh troops to use
to-morrow I could take Richmond," he telegraphed Secretary Stanton. "If
I save this country now I tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you
or any other person in Washington. You have done your best to sacrifice
this army."

The Secretary's rage may be imagined, and he would have had McClellan
arrested and sent before a court-martial; but Lincoln's patience yet
prevailed, and he crossed the Potomac for a personal conference with
his insubordinate commander, urging him to make a forward movement.
The members of the Cabinet drew up an indignant protest demanding the
immediate removal of McClellan from command, but decided not to hand it
to the President.

Finally, the Army of the Potomac was compelled to follow Lee northward,
and after the battle of Antietam the President telegraphed McClellan:
"Please do not let him [the enemy] get off without being hurt."
Two weeks later he again visited the camp, and, after reviewing and
inspecting the troops, remarked,--

"It is called the Army of the Potomac, but is only McClellan's

President Lincoln's warmest defenders cannot excuse his procrastination
with McClellan upon any other ground than excessive caution. They
know that he acted against his own judgment; that he was convinced of
McClellan's unfitness within three months after he had placed him in
command, and that the conviction grew upon him daily, but his fear of
offending public opinion and wounding McClellan's vanity led him to
sacrifice the interests of the government and unnecessarily prolong the
war. The same criticism can be made of his treatment of other generals
intrusted with the command of the army. Of all his officers, no one ever
possessed the full confidence of the President except General Grant.

While McClellan was in command Lincoln studied the military situation
with characteristic thoroughness and penetration, and drew up memoranda
in detail as to the movements of the army. He also gave his opinion as
to what the enemy would do under the circumstances. These memoranda were
rejected by McClellan in a contemptuous manner, but since they have
become public they have commanded the respect and admiration of the
ablest military critics.

The President's troubles were not confined to the Army of the Potomac,
nor were they bounded by the Alleghany Mountains, but extended wherever
there were military movements; wherever there were offices to be
filled the same conditions existed; the same jealousies, rivalries,
and incompetence interfered with the proper administration of the
government. And the most popular heroes, the idols of the public,
invariably caused the most confusion and showed the most flagrant
indiscretion and incompetence. Second only in popularity to McClellan,
perhaps even higher in the esteem of the Republican party, was John C.
Frémont, the first candidate of that party for the Presidency, a man
whose adventures as an explorer had excited the admiring interest of
every school-boy, and whose activity in making California a state had
given him a reputation for romance, gallantry, and patriotism. He was
"the Pathfinder," and second only to Daniel Boone as a frontier hero.
Seward had pressed him for appointment as Secretary of War; at one time
Lincoln put him down on the slate as minister to France, and when the
war broke out his name was among the first to suggest itself to the
people as that of a savior of the country. He had been in France during
the winter, and had sailed for home when Sumter was fired upon.

Upon his arrival in New York he was handed a commission as major-general
in the regular army and orders to take command in the Mississippi
Valley. It was an opportunity that any soldier might have envied, and
the President expected him to proceed at once to his head-quarters at
St. Louis, where his presence was imperatively needed; but the ovations
he received in the East and the adulation that was paid him everywhere
were too gratifying for his self-denial, and it was not until he
received peremptory orders, twenty-five days after his appointment, that
he proceeded leisurely westward to find his department in a state of
the greatest confusion and apprehension. Instead, however, of devoting
himself to the task of organization and getting an army into the field
to quell disloyal uprisings and exterminate the bushwhackers who were
burning towns, plundering farm-houses, tearing up railroads, murdering
loyal citizens, and committing other crimes, he remained in St. Louis,
taking more interest in political than in military questions, issuing
commissions to his friends, and giving contracts with such a lavish
hand and in such an irregular way as to provoke protest from the
accounting officers of the government. Political intrigue and distrust
were so prevalent that Frémont was accused of an ambition to lead a new
secession movement, separate the Western States from the Union, and
establish an empire under his own sovereignty similar to that of which
Aaron Burr is supposed to have dreamed.

President Lincoln watched with anxiety and sorrow the dethronement of
another popular idol, and defended and protected Frémont with the same
charity and patience he had shown to McClellan. Instead of removing him
from command, as he should have done, he endeavored to shield him from
the consequences of his mismanagement, and sent General David Hunter,
an old friend and veteran officer in whom he had great confidence, this

"General Frémont needs assistance which is difficult to give him. He
is losing the confidence of men near him, whose support any man in his
position must have to be successful.... He needs to have by his side a
man of large experience. Will you not for me take that place? Your rank
is one grade too high to be ordered to it; but will you not serve your
country and oblige me by taking it voluntarily."

With this letter General Hunter went to St. Louis to try and save
Frémont, but it was too late. Frémont's principal political backing came
from the Blair family, who were also his warmest personal friends; but,
when they endeavored to advise and restrain him, a quarrel broke out
and Frémont placed General Frank P. Blair under arrest. Blair preferred
formal charges against his commander; and his father and brother, the
latter being Postmaster-General, demanded Frémont's removal on account
of incapacity. Then, to increase Lincoln's anxieties and perplexities,
Mrs. Jessie Benton Frémont, the daughter of Senator Benton and a
romantic figure in American history, appeared in Washington to conduct
her husband's side of the quarrel, denouncing the Blairs and all other
critics with unmeasured contempt and earnestness.

The President confesses that he was exasperated almost beyond endurance.
Mrs. Frémont, he says, "sought an audience with me at midnight, and
attacked me so violently with many things that I had to exercise all the
awkward tact I had to avoid quarrelling with her. She more than once
intimated that if General Frémont should decide to try conclusions with
me, he could set up for himself."

While the weary President was spending sleepless nights planning the
reorganization of the Army of the Potomac and an offensive campaign to
satisfy public clamor, he endeavored to arbitrate the quarrel between
Frémont and the Blairs. In the midst of his efforts at conciliation,
General Frémont startled the country and almost paralyzed the President
by issuing an emancipation proclamation and an order that all persons
found with arms in their hands should be shot. The President wrote
him a gentle but firm remonstrance, "in a spirit of caution and not
of censure," he said, and sent it by special messenger to St. Louis,
"in order that it may certainly and speedily reach you." Mrs. Frémont
brought the reply to Washington. It was an apology mixed with defiance.
Frémont asserted that he had acted from convictions of duty with
full deliberation, and proceeded at length to argue the justice and
expediency of the step; and he was as much encouraged in his defiance as
Lincoln was embarrassed by the radical Republican leaders and newspapers
of the North. Frémont's proclamation was revoked by order of the
President, but it was not so easy to correct the mistakes he had made in
administration. Finally, after long deliberation and upon the advice of
three experienced officers in whom he had great confidence and who had
been with Frémont and were familiar with his conduct and the political
and military situation, the President relieved him from command.

Frémont accepted the inevitable with dignity. He issued a farewell
address to his army, was given ovations by radical Republicans in
different parts of the country, but was not again intrusted with an
independent command.

After he arose from his sleepless bed the morning following the battle
of Bull Run, Lincoln devoted every spare moment to the study of the
map of the seat of war and to reading military history. A shelf in his
private library was filled with books on tactics, the histories of great
campaigns, and such military authorities upon the science of warfare
as might afford him ideas, valuable information, and suggestions. He
undertook the preparation of a plan of campaign precisely as he had been
accustomed to prepare for a trial in court, and before many days his
quick perceptions, his retentive memory, and his reasoning powers had
given him wider knowledge than was possessed by any of his generals.
He did not fail to consult every person in whom he had confidence
both upon abstract military questions and geographical and political
conditions, and before long he developed a plan which he submitted
to the military committees of Congress a few days after Congress
assembled in December, 1861. Several of the most influential Senators
and Representatives who did not belong to the committees were invited
to be present. He proposed, first to maintain the military force along
the Potomac to menace Richmond; second, to move an army from Cairo
southward within easy communication of a flotilla upon the Mississippi;
and, third, to send an army from Cincinnati eastward to Cumberland
Gap in East Tennessee. Preliminary to the latter movement he proposed
the construction of a railway from Cincinnati to Knoxville by way of
Lexington, Kentucky, in order to avoid the difficulties and delays of
transportation through the mountains, and military authorities now
agree that if his advice had been followed the war would have been
shortened at least two years. Mr. Nicolay, his private secretary,
reports the substance of the President's appeal to Congress, as he stood
before a map of Tennessee in the President's room at the Capitol:

"I am thoroughly convinced that the closing struggle of the war will
occur somewhere in this mountain country. By our superior numbers
and strength we will everywhere drive the rebel armies back from the
level districts lying along the coast, from those lying south of
the Ohio River, and from those lying east of the Mississippi River.
Yielding to our superior force, they will gradually retreat to the
more defensible mountain districts, and make their final stand in that
part of the South where the seven States of Virginia, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia come
together. The population there is overwhelmingly and devotedly loyal to
the Union. The despatches from Brigadier-General Thomas of October 28
and November 5 show that, with four additional good regiments, he is
willing to undertake the campaign and is confident he can take immediate
possession. Once established, the people will rally to his support, and
by building a railroad, over which to forward him regular supplies and
needed reinforcements from time to time, we can hold it against all
attempts to dislodge us, and at the same time menace the enemy in any
one of the States I have named."

There was no response to this appeal, except from the Senators and
Representatives from East Tennessee, where nearly the entire population
were loyal to the Union. One of the motives of the President in planning
this campaign was to protect them from the raids of the Confederate
cavalry. The Congressmen who heard him, however, were determined to
gratify the public demand for an assault upon Richmond. All eyes were
upon the Army of the Potomac, and it was popularly believed that if an
assault were made and the Confederate capital captured, the rebellion
would be promptly crushed. The President then undertook to carry out his
plan with the forces at his disposal, but General Buell was too stubborn
and too slow, either refusing to carry out his orders or wasting his
time and strength in arguments against the practicability of the plan.
If the same time, money, and military strength that were expended in
his attempted march from Corinth to East Tennessee during the following
summer had been devoted to the construction of a railroad, as proposed
by the President, the entire situation in the Mississippi Valley would
have been changed, and the battles which made Grant, Thomas, and Sherman
famous would never have been fought. This is the opinion of the military
experts after a quarter of a century of controversy, and the longer the
subject is discussed the more firmly established is the verdict in favor
of the wisdom and practicability of Lincoln's plan.

General McClellan was not the only military commander to annoy and
perplex the President by procrastination and argument. The official
records of the war at this time are filled with letters and telegrams
addressed by Lincoln to Buell and Halleck, appealing to them to
obey his orders and move towards the enemy. Buell kept promising to
do so, but his delay was exasperating, and, differing in opinion
from his superiors, he was, like McClellan, continually guilty of
insubordination. Halleck, who was considered one of the ablest and
best-equipped officers in the Union army, and was intended to be the
successor of General Scott, was equally dilatory, although he had a
better excuse, because, when he assumed command at St. Louis, succeeding
General Frémont, he found the whole department in a deplorable
condition, and was working with great energy and ability to organize
and equip an army for the field. It is undoubtedly the case that both
Buell and Halleck lacked confidence in the President's military capacity
and placed a higher value upon their own judgment; but, whether the
President realized this or not, he laid out the plan of a campaign and
gave orders to both generals to co-operate in a joint land and river
expedition up the Tennessee or Cumberland River. Neither made the
slightest preparation for it or communicated with each other on the
subject,--an act of insubordination that would not have been tolerated
in any other country in the world. Then, when the President began to
press his generals, Halleck excused himself for refusing to carry out
his orders on the ground that it was bad strategy, and Buell made no
reply whatever.

The patience of the President seemed inexhaustible. He kept his temper,
and finally persuaded General Halleck to make a demonstration, which
resulted in the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson and the famous
campaign of General Grant in the early spring of 1862. The results of
that campaign might have been much more conclusive had General Buell
obeyed orders and responded to the appeals of General Halleck for
assistance and to the President's orders for him to co-operate. Lincoln
watched every step of the march with anxious interest, and his telegrams
show that he anticipated Grant's movements with remarkable accuracy. His
suggestions show how familiar he was with the country and the location
of the Confederate forces. One of his telegrams to Halleck illustrates
his knowledge of detail. It reads,--

"You have Fort Donelson safe, unless Grant shall be overwhelmed from
outside; to prevent which latter will, I think, require all the
vigilance, energy, and skill of yourself and Buell, acting in full
co-operation. Columbus will not get at Grant, but the force from Bowling
Green will. They hold the railroad from Bowling Green to within a few
miles of Fort Donelson, with the bridge at Clarksville undisturbed.
It is unsafe to rely that they will not dare to expose Nashville to
Buell. A small part of their force can retire slowly towards Nashville,
breaking up the railroad as they go, and keep Buell out of that city
twenty days. Meantime, Nashville will be abundantly defended by forces
from all south and perhaps from here at Manassas. Could not a cavalry
force from General Thomas on the upper Cumberland dash across, almost
unresisted, and cut the railroad at or near Knoxville, Tennessee? In
the midst of a bombardment at Fort Donelson, why could not a gunboat
run up and destroy the bridge at Clarksville? Our success or failure at
Fort Donelson is vastly important, and I beg you to put your soul in the
effort. I send a copy of this to Buell."

Imagine his sensations when he received a reply from General Halleck:
"Make Buell, Grant, and Pope major-generals of volunteers and give me
command in the West. I ask this in return for Fort Henry and Donelson."

The President realized the situation, made the promotions, consolidated
the different departments west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, placed
Halleck in command, and directed him to take advantage of "the golden
opportunity;" but the latter was too deliberate, and it required only
a brief experience to demonstrate that he was unfit to command troops
in the field. He was called to Washington, placed at the head-quarters
of the army to succeed General McClellan, and Grant was left in command
of the army in Tennessee, where he undertook the task of opening the
Mississippi in his own way, having the full confidence of the President.

It is quite remarkable that from the beginning Lincoln's confidence in
Grant was firm and abiding. This may have been partly due to the strong
endorsements he had received from Representative Washburne and other
mutual friends, although Grant was not highly regarded at home at that
time, and found difficulty in obtaining a commission from the Governor
of Illinois. President Lincoln had never seen him until he came East to
take command of the army, and had heard evil as well as good reports
concerning that silent but stubborn soldier who was working his way
down the banks of the Mississippi and closing around Vicksburg. There
is no evidence, however, except his own words, that Lincoln's faith in
him was ever shaken. He gave Grant no orders, sent him no telegrams
or letters such as he had written to Halleck, Buell, Rosecrans, and
other commanders in the West, and there must have been some reason for
his not doing so. We are left only the inference that his sagacity
taught him that Grant was not a man to be interfered with; and although
his patience, like that of the rest of the country, was being sorely
tried by the lack of tangible results in the West, he waited until the
problem was worked out and then wrote Grant the following candid and
characteristic letter:

    "MY DEAR GENERAL: I do not remember that you and I ever met
    personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for
    the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish
    to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of
    Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally did--march
    the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the
    transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except
    a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass
    expedition and the like could succeed. When you got below and
    took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should
    go down the river and join General Banks, and when you turned
    northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I
    now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right
    and I was wrong."

[Illustration: Copyright, 1901, by M. P. Rice


From an original, unretouched negative made in 1864, when he was
commissioned Lieutenant-General and commander of all the armies of the

Such letters are very seldom written by the rulers of nations to the
commanders of their armies. Confirming the obligation, and as a reward
for the victories of Donelson, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga, the President
recommended the revival of the rank of lieutenant-general, which had
been conferred only upon Washington and Scott. His recommendation was
adopted by Congress, Grant was called to Washington, and at a public
reception at the White House on March 8, 1864, he met Lincoln for the
first time. On the following day he was formally invested with his new
rank and authority by the President in the presence of the Cabinet
and several civil and military officials. It was not often that such
formalities occurred at the capital of the simple republic. Lincoln was
very much averse to formalities of all kinds. His democratic spirit
led him to avoid parade, but here was an occasion which his political
instincts taught him might be used to impress the country; hence the
unusual ceremony was arranged.

General Grant did not reach Washington until the early evening of March
8, 1864, and the reception at the White House began at eight o'clock.
A message from the White House notified him that the President desired
his attendance if he was not too tired by his journey; so, immediately
after his arrival he took a hasty supper, changed his travel-worn
uniform for a fresh one, and, in company with an aide-de-camp, reached
the White House about half-past nine o'clock. The cheers that greeted
him as he was recognized by the crowd about the portico reached the
President's ears, but that was the only announcement of the approach of
the latest popular hero. General Grant took his place in line with the
other guests and slowly passed through the corridor and anteroom to the
door of the Blue Parlor where the President stood, with Mrs. Lincoln
and the ladies of the Cabinet at his side, receiving his guests and
shaking hands with them as they passed before him. He recognized Grant
without an introduction, being familiar with his portraits, and these
two remarkable men gazed into each other's eyes in an inquiring way for
a moment, while the people watched them with absorbing interest. After
exchanging the ordinary phrases of greeting, the President introduced
General Grant to Mr. Seward, and the latter led him into the East
Room, where he was received with cheer after cheer, and, blushing with
embarrassment, was compelled to stand upon a sofa where people could see
him, because he was so short of stature that he was hidden in the throng.

The President asked Grant to remain after the close of the reception,
and they had a long conference. As Grant was leaving the White House
the President explained to him the reasons for the formality that would
be observed in presenting his commission as lieutenant-general on the
following day.

"I shall make a very short speech to you," said he, "to which I desire
that you should make a brief reply for an object; and that you may be
properly prepared to do so I have written what I shall say, only four
sentences in all, which I will read from my manuscript as an example
which you may follow, and also read your reply, as you are perhaps not
so much accustomed to public speaking as I am, and I therefore give you
what I shall say so that you may consider it. There are two points that
I would like to have you make in your answer: first, to say something
which shall prevent or obviate any jealousy of you from any of the other
generals in the service; and, second, something which shall put you on
as good terms as possible with the Army of the Potomac. If you see any
objection to this, be under no restraint whatever in expressing that
objection to the Secretary of War."

General Grant and Mr. Stanton left the White House together. The next
day, at one o'clock, in presence of the Cabinet, General Halleck,
two members of Grant's staff, and the President's private secretary,
the commission of lieutenant-general was formally delivered by the
President. Mr. Lincoln said,--

"General Grant, the nation's appreciation of what you have done, and
its reliance upon you for what remains to do in the existing great
struggle, are now presented, with this commission constituting you
Lieutenant-General in the army of the United States. With this high
honor devolves upon you, also, a corresponding responsibility. As
the country herein trusts you, so, under God, it will sustain you. I
scarcely need to add that with what I here speak for the nation goes my
own hearty personal concurrence."

The general had written his speech on half of a sheet of note-paper,
in lead-pencil, but when he came to read it he was as embarrassed as
Washington was when the House of Burgesses at Williamsburg tendered him
its thanks after the Braddock campaign. He found his own writing very
difficult to read, but what he said could hardly have been improved:

"Mr. President, I accept this commission with gratitude for the high
honor conferred. With the aid of the noble armies that have fought on
so many fields for our common country, it will be my earnest endeavor
not to disappoint your expectation. I feel the full weight of the
responsibilities now devolving on me, and I know that, if they are met,
it will be due to those armies and, above all, to the favor of that
Providence which leads both nations and men."

It will be observed that Grant did not comply with the request of the
President, and his speech contains no reference to the subject to which
the President alluded on the previous evening. Grant never offered an
explanation and Lincoln never asked one. Some writers have advanced the
theory that Secretary Stanton, who often differed from the President in
regard to little matters, advised Grant not to refer to such delicate
subjects, but it is more probable that, with his distrust of politicians
and his fear of becoming complicated with them as McClellan and others
had been, the wary warrior thought it wise to be entirely non-committal.
Before leaving his head-quarters in the West, Grant had written Sherman,
"I shall say very distinctly on my arrival there [Washington] that I
shall accept no appointment which will require me to make that city my
head-quarters," and Sherman had urged him to stand by that resolution:
"Do not stay in Washington. Halleck is better qualified than you to
stand the buffets of intrigue and politics."

After the presentation ceremonies the President and Grant retired
together, and the latter inquired what was expected of him. Lincoln
answered that he was expected to take Richmond; that every one who had
tried it so far had failed, and he asked Grant point-blank if he thought
he could do it. With the same directness and simplicity Grant answered
that he could if he had the troops. The President assured him that he
should have all the troops he needed and that he would not be interfered
with in the management of the campaign. Grant himself says, "I did
not communicate my plans to the President, nor did I to the Secretary
of War, nor to General Halleck;" and the President wrote him that he
neither knew nor wished to know his plan of operations, but wanted to
tender his good wishes and promise every aid which the government could
furnish. "If the results shall be less favorable than I hope and the
government expects," he said, "the fault will not be the fault of the
administration." Under those circumstances Grant assumed command of the
army, and from that time President Lincoln felt himself relieved from
the responsibility of planning and directing military movements.

After making an inspection of the army, Grant returned to Washington,
had another conference with President Lincoln, established his
head-quarters at Culpeper, and prepared for active operations. On April
30, 1864, the President sent him the following candid letter:

"Not expecting to see you again before the spring campaign opens, I wish
to express in this way my entire satisfaction with what you have done up
to this time, so far as I understand it. The particulars of your plan I
neither know nor seek to know. You are vigilant and self-reliant; and,
pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any constraints or restraints
upon you. While I am very anxious that any great disaster or capture of
our men in great numbers shall be avoided, I know these points are less
likely to escape your attention than they would be mine. If there is
anything wanting which is within my power to give, do not fail to let me
know it. And now, with a brave army and a just cause, may God sustain

Grant's immediate reply confessed the groundlessness of his

"From my first entrance into the volunteer service of the country to the
present day, I have never had cause of complaint--have never expressed
or implied a complaint against the administration, or the Secretary
of War, for throwing any embarrassment in the way of my vigorously
prosecuting what appeared to me my duty. Indeed, since the promotion
which placed me in command of all the armies, and in view of the great
responsibility and importance of success, I have been astonished at the
readiness with which everything asked for has been yielded, without even
an explanation being asked. Should my success be less than I desire and
expect, the least I can say is, the fault is not with you."

In his reminiscences, General Grant says, "Just after receiving my
commission as lieutenant-general, the President called me aside to speak
to me privately. After a brief reference to the military situation, he
said he thought he could illustrate what he wanted to say by a story,
which he related as follows: 'At one time there was a great war among
the animals, and one side had great difficulty in getting a commander
who had sufficient confidence in himself. Finally, they found a monkey,
by the name of Jocko, who said that he thought he could command their
army if his tail could be made a little longer. So they got more tail
and spliced it on to his caudal appendage. He looked at it admiringly,
and then thought he ought to have a little more still. This was added,
and again he called for more. The splicing process was repeated many
times, until they had coiled Jocko's tail around the room, filling all
the space. Still he called for more tail, and, there being no other
place to coil it, they began wrapping it around his shoulders. He
continued his call for more, and they kept on winding the additional
tail about him until its weight broke him down.' I saw the point, and,
rising from my chair, replied, 'Mr. President, I will not call for more
assistance unless I find it impossible to do with what I already have.'

"Upon one occasion," continued Grant, "when the President was at my
head-quarters at City Point, I took him to see the work that had been
done on the Dutch Gap Canal. After taking him around and showing him all
the points of interest, explaining how, in blowing up one portion of the
work that was being excavated, the explosion had thrown the material
back into, and filled up, a part already completed, he turned to me and
said, 'Grant, do you know what this reminds me of? Out in Springfield,
Illinois, there was a blacksmith named ----. One day, when he did not
have much to do, he took a piece of soft iron that had been in his shop
for some time, and for which he had no special use, and, starting up
his fire, began to heat it. When he got it hot he carried it to the
anvil and began to hammer it, rather thinking he would weld it into an
agricultural implement. He pounded away for some time until he got it
fashioned into some shape, when he discovered that the iron would not
hold out to complete the implement he had in mind. He then put it back
into the forge, heated it up again, and recommenced hammering, with an
ill-defined notion that he would make a claw hammer, but after a time he
came to the conclusion that there was more iron there than was needed
to form a hammer. Again he heated it, and thought he would make an axe.
After hammering and welding it into shape, knocking the oxidized iron
off in flakes, he concluded there was not enough of the iron left to
make an axe that would be of any use. He was now getting tired and a
little disgusted at the result of his various essays. So he filled his
forge full of coal, and, after placing the iron in the centre of the
heap, took the bellows and worked up a tremendous blast, bringing the
iron to a white heat. Then with his tongs he lifted it from the bed of
coals, and thrusting it into a tub of water near by, exclaimed with an
oath, "Well, if I can't make anything else of you, I will make a fizzle,

A friend once asked Lincoln whether the story was true that he had
inquired where General Grant got his liquor, so that he might send a
barrel to each of his other generals. Lincoln replied that the story
originated in King George's time. When General Wolfe was accused of
being mad, the King replied, "I wish he would bite some of my other

At the dedication of the Lincoln monument at Springfield, October 15,
1874, General Grant said, "From March, 1864, to the day when the hand
of the assassin opened a grave for Mr. Lincoln, then President of
the United States, my personal relations with him were as close and
intimate as the nature of our respective duties would permit. To know
him personally was to love and respect him for his great qualities
of heart and head and for his patience and patriotism. With all his
disappointments from failures on the part of those to whom he had
intrusted commands, and treachery on the part of those who had gained
his confidence but to betray it, I never heard him utter a complaint,
nor cast a censure, for bad conduct or bad faith. It was his nature
to find excuses for his adversaries. In his death the nation lost its
greatest hero; in his death the South lost its most just friend."

These relations thus established were never disturbed. Grant was
the first of all the generals in whom the President placed implicit
confidence; he was the only one with whom he seemed to feel entirely at
ease; and although their communications were frequent and voluminous,
there was seldom a difference of opinion. They contain no complaint
or reproach, but ring with mutual confidence and appreciation. Seldom
have two men of such remarkable character and ability enjoyed such
unruffled relations. Military history furnishes no similar instance.
Each seemed to measure the other at his full stature and recognize his
strength. There were many busybodies carrying tales and striving to
excite suspicion and jealousy, but their faith could not be shaken or
their confidence impaired. Lincoln's letters to Grant offer a striking
contrast to those addressed to Burnside, Hooker, McClellan, and other

General Ambrose E. Burnside was selected to command the Army of the
Potomac after McClellan was relieved November 5, 1862. He was a
classmate and intimate friend of his predecessor, handsome, brave,
generous, and as modest as McClellan was vain. He not only did not seek
the honor, but declined it twice on the ground that he was not competent
to command so large an army, but finally accepted the responsibility
at the urgent wish of the President, and very soon demonstrated the
mistake. His career was as unfortunate as it was brief, but his manly
report of the unfortunate battle of Fredericksburg did him great credit,
for he assumed all the responsibility for the failure and said nothing
but praise of his men.

The President replied by a kind and sympathetic despatch after his
failure at Fredericksburg, and fully appreciated his situation.
"Although you were not successful," he said, "the attempt was not an
error nor the failure other than accident. The courage with which you in
an open field maintained the contest against an intrenched foe, and the
consummate skill and success with which you crossed and recrossed the
river in the face of the enemy, show that you possess all the qualities
of a great army, which will yet give victory to the cause of the country
and of popular government."

Burnside's confession of failure destroyed the confidence of the army in
him, and Burnside realized it. "Doubtless," he said, "this difference
of opinion between my general officers and myself results from a lack
of confidence in me. In this case it is highly necessary that this
army should be commanded by some other officer, to whom I will most
cheerfully give way."

The President replied, "I deplore the want of concurrence with you
in opinion by your general officers, but I do not see the remedy. Be
cautious, and do not understand that the government or the country is
driving you. I do not yet see how I could profit by changing the command
of the Army of the Potomac, and if I did I would not wish to do it by
accepting the resignation of your commission."

Nevertheless, it was futile for the President to pretend that Burnside's
usefulness as commander of the army was not at an end, and the latter
determined to bring about a crisis himself by recommending for dismissal
from the army General Joseph Hooker for "unjust and unnecessary
criticisms of the actions of his superior officer.... As unfit to hold
an important commission during a crisis like the present when so
much patience, charity, confidence, consideration, and patriotism are
due from every soldier in the field." Burnside also prepared an order
dismissing nine other generals, and with his usual frankness took them
to Washington and asked the President's approval. As an alternative he
tendered his own resignation. Lincoln realized that a commander who
had lost the confidence of his army and the country at large could not
restore it by punishing his critics, so, in the most kindly manner,
he accepted Burnside's resignation and assigned General Hooker to
command. The President was fully aware of Hooker's weakness, and that
the latter's conduct and language concerning Burnside and himself had
been not only indiscreet and insubordinate, but actually insulting. But
he was willing to overlook all that and confer honor and responsibility
upon him because he believed in his ability and patriotism, and knew
that the soldiers held him in higher esteem than any other general in
the East. But accompanying Hooker's commission was a letter which no
man but Abraham Lincoln could have written without giving offence, and
nothing from the pen of the President at that period of his life better
indicates the complete self-control and self-confidence which possessed

"I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac," he said. "Of
course I have done this upon what appears to me sufficient reason, 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 counsel of your ambition and thwarted him
as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country
and to a most meritorious and 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."

General Hooker received this rebuke and admonition in the spirit in
which it was offered; he recognized its justice, and endeavored to
restore himself in the President's estimation; but his first important
movement was defeated by the enemy, and, although it was not so great
a disaster as that of Burnside at Fredericksburg, the battle of
Chancellorsville, in May, 1863, marked the darkest hour in the Civil War
and inspired Lee and the Confederate authorities with confidence of the
ultimate success of the rebellion. Mr. W. O. Stoddard, an inmate of the
White House at that time, has given us the following picture:

"The darkest hour in the Civil War came in the first week of May, 1863,
after the bloody battle of Chancellorsville. The country was weary of
the long war, with its draining taxes of gold and blood. Discontent
prevailed everywhere, and the opponents of the Lincoln administration
were savage in their denunciation. More than a third of each day's mail
already consisted of measureless denunciation; another large part was
made up of piteous appeals for peace.

"There were callers at the White House. Members of the Senate and House
came with gloomy faces; the members of the Cabinet came to consult or
condole. The house was like a funeral, and those who entered or left it
trod softly for fear they might wake the dead.

"That night the last visitors in Lincoln's room were Stanton and
Halleck, and the President was left alone. Not another soul except
the one secretary busy with the mail in his room across the hall. The
ticking of a clock would have been noticeable; but another sound came
that was almost as regular and as ceaseless. It was the tread of the
President's feet as he strode slowly back and forth across his chamber.
That ceaseless march so accustomed the ear to it that when, a little
after twelve, there was a break of several minutes, the sudden silence
made one put down his letters and listen.

"The President may have been at his table writing, or he may--no man
knows or can guess; but at the end of the minutes, long or short,
the tramp began again. Two o'clock and he was walking yet, and when,
a little after three, the secretary's task was done and he slipped
noiselessly out, he turned at the head of the stairs for a moment. It
was so--the last sound he heard as he went down was the footfall in
Lincoln's room.

"The young man was there again before eight o'clock. The President's
room was open. There sat Lincoln eating his breakfast alone. He had not
been out of his room; but there was a kind of cheery, hopeful morning
light on his face. He had watched all night, but beside his cup of
coffee lay his instructions to General Hooker to push forward. There was
a decisive battle won that night in that long vigil with disaster and
despair. Only a few weeks later the Army of the Potomac fought it over
again as desperately--and they won it--at Gettysburg."

From the time when Hooker took command the President kept closer
watch than ever upon the movements of the Army of the Potomac, and
his directions were given with greater detail than before. He had no
confidence in Hooker's ability to plan, although he felt that he was a
good fighter.

Early in June, 1863, Hooker reported his opinion that Lee intended to
move on Washington, and asked orders to attack the Confederate rear. To
this Lincoln answered in quaint satire, "In case you find Lee coming
north of the Rappahannock I would by no means cross to the south of
it. If he should leave a rear force at Fredericksburg, tempting you
to fall upon it, it would fight you in entrenchments and have you at
a disadvantage, while his main force would in some way be getting an
advantage of you northward. In one word, I would not take any risk of
being entangled upon the river, like an ox would jump half over a fence
and be liable to be torn by dogs front and rear, without a fair chance
to gore one way or kick the other."

To illustrate how dependent was the commander of the Army of the Potomac
upon Lincoln I give another despatch, sent by the President to Hooker
when the latter proposed to make a dash upon Richmond while Lee was
moving his army westward towards the Shenandoah Valley.

"If left to me, I would not go south of the Rappahannock upon Lee's
moving north of it. If you had Richmond invested to-day, you would
not be able to take it in twenty days; meanwhile your communications,
and with them your army, would be ruined. I think Lee's army, and not
Richmond, is your true objective point. If he comes towards the upper
Potomac, follow on his flank and on his inside track, shortening your
lines while he lengthens his. Fight him, too, when opportunity offers.
If he stays where he is, fret him and fret him."

A few days later Lincoln telegraphed Hooker, "If the head of Lee's
army is at Martinsburg and the tail of it on the plank road between
Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the animal must be very slim
somewhere. Could you not break him?" But Hooker made no attempt to do
so, and merely followed Lee northward through Virginia and Maryland
into Pennsylvania, keeping on the "inside track," as Mr. Lincoln
suggested, between the Confederate army and Washington. Before the
battle of Gettysburg, which ended the most aggressive campaign of the
Confederates, a long-standing feud between Hooker and Halleck became
so acute that the President saw that one or the other of them must be
relieved. Hooker, in a fit of irritation because Halleck had declined
to comply with some unimportant request, asked to be relieved from the
command, and the President selected George G. Meade to succeed him. A
few days later the battle of Gettysburg was fought. The vain ambition
of Lee and Davis to raise the Confederate flag over Independence Hall
and establish the head-quarters of the Confederate government in
Philadelphia was dissipated and Lee fell back, leaving two thousand six
hundred killed, twelve thousand wounded, and five thousand prisoners.

Lincoln's military instincts taught him that the war could be
practically ended there if the advantages gained at Gettysburg were
properly utilized, and so implored Meade to renew his attack. But Meade
held back, Lee escaped, and for once the President lost his patience. In
the intensity of his disappointment he wrote Meade as follows:

"You fought and beat the enemy at Gettysburg, and, of course, his loss
was as great as yours. He retreated, and you did not, as it seemed
to me, pressingly pursue him; but a flood in the river detained him
till, by slow degrees, you were again upon him. You had at least twenty
thousand veteran troops directly with you and as many more raw ones
within supporting distance, all in addition to those who fought with
you at Gettysburg, while it was not possible that he had received a
single recruit, and yet you stood and let the flood run down, bridges be
built, and the enemy move away at his leisure, without attacking him.
Again, my dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude
of the misfortune involved in Lee's escape. He was within your easy
grasp, 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. If you could not safely attack Lee last Monday, how can
you possibly do so south of the river, when you can take with you very
few more than two-thirds of the force you then had in hand? I would be
unreasonable to expect, and I do not expect (that) you can now effect
much. Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably
because of it."

Before the mails left that night Lincoln's wrath was spent, his
amiability was restored, and this letter was never sent.

It is impossible in the limits of this volume to relate the details
of the war, but from the detached incidents that have been given, and
the narrative of his relations with Scott, McClellan, Frémont, Grant,
and other generals referred to in this chapter, the reader may form
a clear and accurate conception of Abraham Lincoln's military genius
and the unselfish and often ill-advised consideration with which he
invariably treated his commanders. During the last year of the war
the right men seem to have found the right places, and in all the
voluminous correspondence of the President from the White House and
the War Department with Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Thomas there
appears to have been a perfect understanding and complete unity of
opinion and purpose between them. He allowed them greater liberty than
other commanders had enjoyed, evidently because they had his confidence
to a higher degree; he never was compelled to repeat the entreaties,
admonitions, and rebukes with which the pages of his correspondence
during the earlier part of the war were filled. His relations with
Sherman cannot better be defined than by the following brief letter:

    "MY DEAR GENERAL SHERMAN: Many, many thanks for your
    Christmas gift, the capture of Savannah. When you were about
    leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast I was anxious, if not
    fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and
    remembering that 'nothing risked, nothing gained,' I did not
    interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor
    is all yours, for I believe none of us went farther than to
    acquiesce. And taking the work of General Thomas into the count,
    as it should be taken, it is, indeed, a great success. Not only
    does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantages,
    but in showing to the world that your army could be divided,
    putting the stronger part to an important new service, and
    yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the
    whole--Hood's army--it brings those who sat in darkness to see a
    great light. But what next? I suppose it will be safe if I leave
    General Grant and yourself to decide. Please make my grateful
    acknowledgments to your whole army, officers and men."

[Illustration: Copyright, 1900, by McClure, Phillips & Co.


Lincoln's relations with Sheridan were limited. They never met but
twice, and there was very little correspondence between them, the most
notable being the laconic despatch after Sheridan's fight with Ewell at
Sailor's Creek, near the Appomattox. That was one of the last blows
struck at the Confederacy, and Sheridan, realizing the situation, made a
hasty report, ending with the words,--

"If the thing is pressed I think Lee will surrender."

Grant forwarded the despatch to President Lincoln, who instantly

"Let the thing be pressed."

When he had read the telegram describing Sheridan's last fight with
Early in the Shenandoah Valley, he remarked that he once knew a man
who loaded a piece of punk with powder, lighted it, clapped it inside
a biscuit, and tossed it to a savage dog that was snarling at him. In
an instant the dog snapped it up and swallowed it. Presently the fire
touched the powder and away went the dog, his head in one place, a leg
here and another there, and the different parts scattered all over the
country. "And," said the man, "as for the dog, as a dog, I was never
able to find him." "And that," remarked the President, "is very much the
condition of Early's army, as an army."

President Lincoln's appearance in Richmond after the Confederacy fell
to pieces was one of the most dramatic scenes in all history because of
its extreme simplicity and the entire absence of rejoicing or parade.
There was no triumphant entrance, as the world might have expected
when a conqueror occupies the capital of the conquered. Never before
or since has an event of such transcendent significance occurred with
so little ostentation or ceremony. Lincoln was at City Point, the
head-quarters of General Grant, and was lodged upon a little steamer
called the "River Queen" when he heard of the capture of Richmond and
the fire that consumed a large part of that city. The same day he went
up the river without escort of any kind, landed at a wharf near Libby
Prison, found a guide among the colored people that were hanging around
the place, and walked a mile or more to the centre of the city. The
loafers at the wharf soon identified the President and surrounded him,
striving to touch the hem of his garment. To protect the President and
open a passage for him, Admiral Porter called sailors from his boat, who
marched in front and behind him to the town. Lincoln did not realize
the danger that surrounded him; he did not remember that he was in the
midst of a community with whom he was still at war, or that they held
him responsible for the sorrows they had suffered, the distress they had
endured, and the destruction of their property. But, although within an
hour from the time he landed every man, woman, and child knew of his
presence, not a hand was lifted against him, not an unkind word was
said; and, after visiting the head-quarters of General Weitzel, who was
in command of the Union troops, the Capitol of the State which had been
the seat of the Confederate government, the mansion which Jefferson
Davis had occupied, Libby Prison, where so many officers had starved and
died, and holding two important interviews with John A. Campbell, the
Confederate Secretary of War, who had remained in Richmond when the rest
of the government fled, he went leisurely back to his boat, returned to
the steamer, and sailed for Washington, where, only a few days later,
surrounded by his loyal friends and in the midst of an ovation, he was
stricken by the bullet of an assassin.

Lincoln's personal courage was demonstrated early in life. He never
showed a sense of fear. He never refused a challenge for a trial of
strength, nor avoided an adventure that was attended by danger; and
while President he had no fear of assassination, although he had many
warnings and was quite superstitious. He was accustomed to ridicule
the anxiety of his friends, and when the threats of his enemies were
repeated to him he changed the subject of conversation. Senator Sumner
was one of those who believed that he was in continual danger of
assassination, and frequently cautioned him about going out at night.
When the Senator's anxiety was referred to by friends one evening, the
President said, "Sumner declined to stand up with me, back to back, to
see which was the tallest man, and made a fine speech about this being
the time for uniting our fronts against the enemy and not our backs. But
I guess he was afraid to measure, though he is a good piece of a man. I
have never had much to do with bishops where I live, but, do you know?
Sumner is my idea of a bishop."

In his reminiscences, General Butler says, "He was personally a very
brave man and gave me the worst fright of my life. He came to my
head-quarters and said,--

"'General, I should like to ride along your lines and see them, and see
the boys and how they are situated in camp.'

"I said, 'Very well, we will go after breakfast.'

"I happened to have a very tall, easy-riding, pacing horse, and, as the
President was rather long-legged, I tendered him the use of him while
I rode beside him on a pony. He was dressed, as was his custom, in a
black suit, a swallow-tail coat, and tall silk hat. As there rode on
the other side of him at first Mr. Fox, the Secretary of the Navy, who
was not more than five feet six inches in height, he stood out as a
central figure of the group. Of course the staff-officers and orderly
were behind. When we got to the line of intrenchment, from which the
line of rebel pickets was not more than three hundred yards, he towered
high above the works, and as we came to the several encampments the boys
cheered him lustily. Of course the enemy's attention was wholly directed
to this performance, and with the glass it could be plainly seen that
the eyes of their officers were fastened upon Lincoln; and a personage
riding down the lines cheered by the soldiers was a very unusual thing,
so that the enemy must have known that he was there. Both Mr. Fox and
myself said to him,--

"'Let us ride on the side next to the enemy, Mr. President. You are in
fair rifle-shot of them, and they may open fire; and they must know you,
being the only person not in uniform, and the cheering of the troops
directs their attention to you.'

"'Oh, no,' he said, laughing; 'the commander-in-chief of the army must
not show any cowardice in the presence of his soldiers, whatever he
may feel.' And he insisted upon riding the whole six miles, which was
about the length of my intrenchments, in that position, amusing himself
at intervals, where there was nothing more attractive, in a sort of
competitive examination of the commanding general in the science of
engineering, much to the amusement of my engineer-in-chief, General
Weitzel, who rode on my left, and who was kindly disposed to prompt me
while the examination was going on, which attracted the attention of Mr.
Lincoln, who said,--

"'Hold on, Weitzel, I can't beat you, but I think I can beat Butler.'

"In the later summer (1863)," continues General Butler, "I was invited
by the President to ride with him in the evening out to the Soldiers'
Home, some two miles, a portion of the way being quite lonely. He had no
guard--not even an orderly on the box. I said to him,--

"'Is it known that you ride thus alone at night out to the Soldiers'

"'Oh, yes,' he answered, 'when business detains me until night. I do go
out earlier, as a rule.'

"I said, 'I think you peril too much. We have passed a half-dozen places
where a well-directed bullet might have taken you off.'

"'Oh,' he replied, 'assassination of public officers is not an American

"When he handed me the commission (as major-general), with some kindly
words of compliment, I replied, 'I do not know whether I ought to accept
this. I received my orders to prepare my brigade to march to Washington
while trying a cause to a jury. I stated the fact to the court and
asked that the case might be continued, which was at once consented to,
and I left to come here the second morning after, my business in utter

"He said, 'I guess we both wish we were back trying cases,' with a
quizzical look upon his countenance.

"I said, 'Besides, Mr. President, you may not be aware that I was the
Breckenridge candidate for Governor in my State in the last campaign,
and did all I could to prevent your election.'

"'All the better,' said he; 'I hope your example will bring many of the
same sort with you.'

"'But,' I answered, 'I do not know that I can support the measures of
your administration, Mr. President.'

"'I do not care whether you do or not,' was his reply, 'if you will
fight for the country.'

"'I will take the commission and loyally serve while I may, and bring it
back to you when I can go with you no further.'

"'That is frank; but tell me wherein you think my administration wrong
before you resign,' said he. 'Report to General Scott.'

"'Yes, Mr. President, the bounties which are now being paid to new
recruits cause very large desertions. Men desert and go home, and get
the bounties and enlist in other regiments.'

"'That is too true,' he replied, 'but how can we prevent it?'

"'By vigorously shooting every man who is caught as a deserter until it
is found to be a dangerous business.'

"A saddened, weary look came over his face which I had never seen
before, and he slowly replied,--

"'You may be right--probably are so; but, God help me! how can I have a
butcher's day every Friday in the Army of the Potomac?'"



There was very little social life in the White House during the Lincoln
administration. The President gave a few State dinners each year, such
as were required of his official position, held a few public receptions
to gratify the curiosity of the Washington people and strangers in
the city, and gave one ball which excited much criticism from the
religious press and from unfriendly sources. It was represented as a
heartless exhibition of frivolity in the midst of dying soldiers and a
grief-stricken country, and some people even went so far as to declare
the death of Willie Lincoln, about two weeks later, to be a judgment
of God upon the President and Mrs. Lincoln for indulging in worldly
amusements. These thoughtless writers did not know that during the
reception, which was in honor of the diplomatic corps, the President
and Mrs. Lincoln both slipped away from their guests to spend a moment
at the bedside of their child, who was so ill that the postponement of
the entertainment was proposed, but vetoed by the President. The death
of this lad was the greatest sorrow that ever fell upon the President's

There was little opportunity for home life at the White House because of
the confusion and distraction caused by the war. The President's labors
were unceasing. He seldom took exercise or indulged in amusements.
Occasionally he attended the theatre when distinguished performers
happened to be in Washington, and usually invited them to his box to
express his thanks for the pleasure they had afforded him and to ask
questions about the play. He was particularly fond of Shakespeare, and
attended the presentation of his plays as frequently as his official
cares would permit; he found great diversion in their study, and could
repeat many passages that he learned from the first copy he had ever
seen while yet a clerk in Denton Offutt's store at New Salem. He had
his own theories regarding Shakespeare, and when a prominent actor or
Shakespearian scholar came his way, invariably discussed with him the
Shakespearian mysteries and the original construction of the plays, with
which he was very familiar.

He found diversion in comedies, and used to enjoy clever farces as much
as any child. He often took his children to performances at the theatre,
and their presence doubled his own enjoyment. This was practically his
only recreation, except reading Burns, Petroleum V. Nasby, Artemas Ward,
Josh Billings, and other comic writers who appealed to his keen sense
of the ridiculous and diverted his attention from the cares of state
when they were wearing upon him. He was not fond of games, although
he sometimes played backgammon with his boys. For a time he practised
basket-ball for exercise, but did not enjoy it. He had little out-door
life; it was limited to a daily drive to and from the Soldiers' Home
or to some military camp. He enjoyed the saddle and was a good rider,
although in the long-tailed coat and tall silk hat which he always wore
he made a grotesque figure on horseback. He had no taste for hunting or
fishing, never smoked, and was very temperate in his habits. He yearned
for rest, although his physical strength and endurance were beyond
comparison with those of other public men. His labors and sleepless
nights would have broken down any other constitution, and he was often
weary. One day, during an especially trying period, he lifted his tired
eyes from his desk and remarked to his secretary,--

"I wish George Washington or some other old patriot were here to take my
place for a while, so that I could have a little rest."

If Lincoln had accepted the advice of his secretaries and his associates
he might have spared himself a great deal of labor and annoyance. But
he never excused himself from callers in the busiest period of the war;
even when hundreds of important duties were pressing upon him, he never
denied an attentive ear and a cheerful word. He was a genuine democrat
in his feelings and practices, and, regardless of public affairs,
listened patiently and considerately to the humblest citizen who called
at the White House. One day, when his anteroom was crowded with men and
women seeking admission to his presence and he was unusually perplexed
by official problems, a friend remarked,--

"Mr. President, you had better send that throng away. You are too tired
to see any more people this afternoon. Have them sent away, for you will
wear yourself out listening to them."

"They don't want much and they get very little," he replied. "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."

At the opening of the administration he was overwhelmed with persistent
office-seekers, and so much of his time was occupied in listening to
their demands and trying to gratify them that he felt that he was not
attending to military affairs and matters of public policy as closely as
he should. He compared himself to a man who was so busy letting rooms
at one end of his house that he had no time to put out a fire that was
destroying the other end. And when he was attacked with the varioloid in
1861 he said to his usher,--

"Tell all the office-seekers to come and see me, for now I have
something that I can give them."

He had a remarkable capacity for work and for despatching business.
Although deliberation was one of his strongest characteristics, he knew
when to act and acted quickly. His brain was as tough and as healthy as
his body. His appetite was always good and healthful. He ate sparingly
of plain, wholesome food, but had no taste for rich dishes. He was
temperate in every way except as concerned his labor, and in that he was
tireless. He had the rare and valuable faculty of laying out work for
others and being able to give instructions clearly and concisely. He
loaded his Cabinet and his secretaries to the limit of their strength,
but was always considerate and thoughtful of their comfort. Three of his
secretaries lived with him in the White House and usually worked far
into the night, and, even after their labors for the day had closed,
Lincoln would often wander around barefooted and in his night-shirt,
too wakeful to seek his own bed, and read poems from Burns, jokes from
Artemas Ward, and the letters of Petroleum V. Nasby to the members of
his household.

His sense of humor was his salvation. It was the safety-valve by which
his heart was relieved. He was melancholy by nature and inclined to be
morbid, and it was this keen enjoyment of the ridiculous that enabled
him to endure with patience his official trials and anxiety.

One of the visitors in the early days of the administration says, "He
walked into the corridor with us; and, as he bade us good-by and thanked
---- for what he had told him, he again brightened up for a moment and
asked him in an abrupt kind of way, laying his hand, as he spoke, with a
queer but not uncivil familiarity on his shoulder,--

"'You haven't such a thing as a postmaster in your pocket, have you?'

"---- stared at him in astonishment, and I thought a little in alarm, as
if he suspected a sudden attack of insanity. Then Mr. Lincoln went on,--

"'You see, it seems to me kind of unnatural that you shouldn't have at
least a postmaster in your pocket. Everybody I've seen for days past has
had foreign ministers and collectors and all kinds, and I thought you
couldn't have got in here without having at least a postmaster get into
your pocket.'"

His stories were usually suggested by the conversation or by the
situation in which he was placed; but often, in the company of congenial
friends, he used to sit back in his chair and indulge in what he called
"a good old time;" spinning yarns of his early experiences, describing
the characteristics of odd people he had known, and relating amusing
incidents that occurred daily, even under the shadows and among the
sorrows of war. This habit was the result of his early associations,
when the corner store was the club of the frontiersman and the forum
for intellectual combats as well as the stage for entertainments. There
Lincoln shone as the most brilliant planet that ever illuminated the
communities in which he lived, and there he developed the gift which was
to afford him so much pleasure and so great relief from oppressing care.
He was a poet by nature. He had a deep sentiment and a high appreciation
of the beautiful in literature as well as in life. His soul overflowed
with sympathy, and his great nature was so comprehensive that it could
touch every phase of human interest and meet every class and clan; but
he was a restless listener, and when in the mood for talking it was
difficult to interrupt him.

Chauncey M. Depew, relating his recollections of Lincoln says that once,
while he was at the White House, "the President threw himself on a
lounge and rattled off story after story. It was his method of relief,
without which he might have gone out of his mind, and certainly would
not have been able to have accomplished anything like the amount of work
which he did. It is the popular supposition that most of Mr. Lincoln's
stories were original, but he said, 'I have originated but two stories
in my life, but I tell tolerably well other people's stories.' Riding
the circuit for many years, and stopping at country taverns where were
gathered the lawyers, jurymen, witnesses, and clients, they would sit up
all night narrating to each other their life adventures; and the things
which happened to an original people, in a new country, surrounded by
novel conditions, and told with the descriptive power and exaggeration
which characterized such men, supplied him with an exhaustless fund of
anecdote which could be made applicable for enforcing or refuting an
argument better than all the invented stories of the world."

The humorous aspect of an appeal or an argument never failed to strike
him, and he enjoyed turning the point as much as telling a story. Once,
in the darkest days of the war, a delegation of prohibitionists came to
him and insisted that the reason the North did not win was because the
soldiers drank whiskey and thus brought down the curse of the Lord upon
them. There was a mischievous twinkle in Lincoln's eye when he replied
that he considered that very unfair on the part of the Lord, because the
Southerners drank a great deal worse whiskey and a great deal more of it
than the soldiers of the North.

After the internal revenue laws were enacted the United States marshals
were often sued for false arrest, and Congress appropriated one hundred
thousand dollars to pay the expenses of defending them. Previously
the officials brought into court on such charges appealed to the
Attorney-General to instruct the United States district attorneys to
defend them; but when this appropriation was made, with one accord, they
said that they would hire their own lawyers and applied for the cash;
which reminded the President of a man in Illinois whose cabin was burned
down, and, according to the kindly custom of early days in the West, his
neighbors all contributed something to start him again. In this case
they were so liberal that he soon found himself better off than he had
been before the fire, and got proud. One day a neighbor brought him a
bag of oats, but the fellow refused it with scorn. "No," said he, "I'm
not taking oats now. I take nothing but money."

One day, just after Lincoln's second inauguration, a Massachusetts
merchant, visiting Washington, noticed the great crowd of office-seekers
waiting for an audience with the President, and decided that he, too,
would like to see him. Writing his name on a card, he added the line,
"Holds no office and wants none." The card was taken to President
Lincoln, who, instantly jumping up, said to the attendant, "Show him
up; he is a curiosity." Passing the long line of office-seekers, the
merchant went up to the President, who said he was refreshed to meet a
man who did not want an office, and urged his stay. A long and pleasant
conversation followed.

Mrs. McCulloch went to the White House one Saturday afternoon to attend
Mrs. Lincoln's reception, accompanied by Mrs. William P. Dole, whose
husband was Commissioner of Indian Affairs. "There were crowds in and
out of the White House," said Mrs. McCulloch, "and during the reception
Mr. Lincoln slipped quietly into the room and stood back alone, looking
on as the people passed through. I suggested to Mrs. Dole that we should
go over and speak to him, which we did. Mr. Lincoln said, laughingly,--

"'I am always glad to see you, ladies, for I know you don't want

"I replied, 'But, Mr. President, I do want something; I want you to do
something very much.'

"'Well, what is it?' he asked, adding, 'I hope it isn't anything I can't

"'I want you to suppress the _Chicago Times_, because it does nothing
but abuse the administration,' I replied.

"'Oh, tut, tut! We must not abridge the liberties of the press or the
people. But never mind the _Chicago Times_. The administration can stand
it if the _Times_ can.'"

On a certain occasion the President was induced by a committee of
gentlemen to examine a newly invented "repeating" gun, the peculiarity
of which was that it prevented the escape of gas. After due inspection,
he said,--

"Well, I believe this really does what it is represented to do. Now,
have any of you heard of any machine or invention for preventing the
escape of gas from newspaper establishments?"

However, Lincoln had great respect for the press. He was one day
complaining of the injustice of Mr. Greeley's criticisms and the false
light in which they put him before the country, when a friend, with
great earnestness, suggested,--

"Why don't you publish the facts in every newspaper in the United
States? The people will then understand your position and your
vindication will be complete."

"Yes, all the newspapers will publish my letter, and so will Greeley,"
Lincoln replied. "The next day he will comment upon it, and keep it up,
in that way, until at the end of three weeks I will be convicted out of
my own mouth of all the things he charges against me. No man, whether he
be private citizen or President of the United States, can successfully
carry on a controversy with a great newspaper and escape destruction,
unless he owns a newspaper equally great with a circulation in the same


From a photograph by Brady, now in the War Department Collection,
Washington, D. C.]

Colonel John Hay, who resided in the White House during the entire
administration of Lincoln, has given us this graphic picture of the
President's home life and habits:

"The President rose early, as his sleep was light and capricious. In
the summer, when he lived at the Soldiers' Home, he would take his
frugal breakfast and ride into town in time to be at his desk at eight
o'clock. He began to receive visits nominally at ten o'clock, but long
before that hour struck the doors were besieged by anxious crowds,
through whom the people of importance, Senators and members of Congress,
elbowed their way after the fashion which still survives. On days when
the Cabinet met--Tuesdays and Fridays--the hour of noon closed the
interviews of the morning. On other days it was the President's custom,
at about that hour, to order the doors to be opened and all who were
waiting to be admitted. The crowd would rush in, throng in the narrow
room, and one by one would make their wants known. Some came merely to
shake hands, to wish him Godspeed; their errand was soon done. Others
came asking help or mercy; they usually pressed forward, careless in
their pain as to what ears should overhear their prayer. But there
were many who lingered in the rear and leaned against the wall, hoping
each to be the last, that they might in _tête-à-tête_ unfold their
schemes for their own advantage or their neighbor's hurt. These were
often disconcerted by the President's loud and hearty, 'Well, friend,
what can I do for you?' which compelled them to speak, or retire and
wait for a more convenient season. The inventors were more a source of
amusement than of annoyance. They were usually men of some originality
of character, not infrequently carried to eccentricity. Lincoln had a
quick comprehension of mechanical principles, and often detected a flaw
in an invention which the contriver had overlooked. He would sometimes
go out into the waste fields that then lay south of the Executive
Mansion to test an experimental gun or torpedo. He used to quote with
much merriment the solemn dictum of one rural inventor that 'a gun ought
not to rekyle; if it rekyles at all, it ought to rekyle a little forrid.'

"At luncheon time he had literally to run the gauntlet through the
crowds that filled the corridors between his office and the rooms at the
west end of the house occupied by the family. The afternoon wore away in
much the same manner as the morning; late in the day he usually drove
out for an hour's airing; at six o'clock he dined. He was one of the
most abstemious of men; the pleasures of the table had few attractions
for him. His breakfast was an egg and a cup of coffee; at luncheon he
rarely took more than a biscuit and a glass of milk, a plate of fruit
in its season; at dinner he ate sparingly of one or two courses. He
drank little or no wine; not that he remained on principle a total
abstainer, as he was during a part of his early life in the fervor of
the 'Washingtonian' reform; but he never cared for wine or liquors of
any sort and never used tobacco.

"There was little gayety in the Executive House during his time. It was
an epoch, if not of gloom, at least of a seriousness too intense to
leave room for much mirth. There were the usual formal entertainments,
the traditional state dinners and receptions, conducted very much as
they have been ever since. The great public receptions, with their vast,
rushing multitudes pouring past him to shake hands, he rather enjoyed;
they were not a disagreeable task to him, and he seemed surprised when
people commiserated him upon them. He would shake hands with thousands
of people, seemingly unconscious of what he was doing, murmuring some
monotonous salutation as they went by, his eye dim, his thoughts far
withdrawn; then suddenly he would see some familiar face,--his memory
for faces was very good,--and his eye would brighten and his whole form
grow attentive; he would greet the visitor with a hearty grasp and a
ringing word and dismiss him with a cheery laugh that filled the Blue
Room with infectious good-nature. Many people armed themselves with an
appropriate speech to be delivered on these occasions, but unless it was
compressed into the smallest possible space, it never was uttered; the
crowd would jostle the peroration out of shape. If it were brief enough,
and hit the President's fancy, it generally received a swift answer.
One night an elderly gentleman from Buffalo said, 'Up our way we believe
in God and Abraham Lincoln,' to which the President replied, shoving him
along the line, 'My friend, you are more than half right.'

"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 continually in and out of his father's
cabinet, interrupting his gravest labors and conversations with his
bright, rapid, and very imperfect speech,--for he had an impediment
which made his articulation almost unintelligible 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.

"Mr. Lincoln spent most of his evenings in his office, though
occasionally he remained in the drawing-room after dinner, conversing
with visitors or listening to music, for which he had an especial
liking, though he was not versed in the science, and preferred simple
ballads to more elaborate compositions. In his office he was not often
suffered to be alone; he frequently passed the evening there with a few
friends in frank and free conversation. If the company was all of one
sort he was at his best; his wit and rich humor had full play; he was
once more the Lincoln of the Eighth Circuit, the cheeriest of talkers,
the riskiest of story-tellers; but if a stranger came in he put on in
an instant his whole armor of dignity and reserve. He had a singular
discernment of men; he would talk of the most important political and
military concerns with a freedom which often amazed his intimates, but
we do not recall an instance in which this confidence was misplaced.

"Where only one or two were present he was fond of reading aloud. He
passed many of the summer evenings in this way when occupying his
cottage at the Soldiers' Home.

"He read Shakespeare more than all other writers together. He made no
attempt to keep pace with the ordinary literature of the day. Sometimes
he read a scientific work with keen appreciation, but he pursued no
systematic course. He owed less to reading than most men. He delighted
in Burns; of Thomas Hood he was also excessively fond. He often read
aloud 'The Haunted House.' He would go to bed with a volume of Hood
in his hands, and would sometimes rise at midnight and, traversing
the long halls of the Executive Mansion in his night-clothes, would
come to his secretary's room and read aloud something that especially
pleased him. He wanted to share his enjoyment of the writer; it was
dull pleasure for him to laugh alone. He read Bryant and Whittier with
appreciation; there were many poems of Holmes that he read with intense
relish. 'The Last Leaf' was one of his favorites; he knew it by heart,
and used often to repeat it with deep feeling."

Ben: Perley Poore, in his reminiscences, says, "The White House, while
Mr. Lincoln occupied it, was a fertile field for news, which he was
always ready to give those correspondents in whom he had confidence, but
the surveillance of the press--first by Secretary Seward and then by
Secretary Stanton--was as annoying as it was inefficient. A censorship
of all matter filed at the Washington office of the telegraph, for
transmission to different Northern cities, was exercised by a succession
of ignorant individuals, some of whom had to be hunted up at whiskey
shops when their signature of approval was desired. A Congressional
investigation showed how stupidly the censors performed their duty.
Innocent sentences which were supposed to have a hidden meaning were
stricken from paragraphs, which were thus rendered nonsensical, and
information was rejected that was clipped in print from the Washington
papers, which it was known regularly found their way into 'Dixie.'

"When irate correspondents appealed to Mr. Lincoln, he would
good-naturedly declare that he had no control over his secretaries,
and would endeavor to mollify their wrath by telling them a story. One
morning in the winter of 1862, when two angry journalists had undertaken
to explain the annoyances of the censorship, Mr. Lincoln, who had
listened in his dreamy way, finally said,--

"'I don't know much about this censorship, but come downstairs and I
will show you the origin of one of the pet phrases of you newspaper

"Leading the way down into the basement, he opened the door of a larder
and solemnly pointed to the hanging carcass of a gigantic sheep.

"'There,' said he; 'now you know what "_Revenons à nos moutons_" means.
It was raised by Deacon Buffum at Manchester, up in New Hampshire. Who
can say, after looking at it, that New Hampshire's only product is

When William Lloyd Garrison came to Washington to thank the President
for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, he visited Baltimore
expressly for the purpose of inspecting the old jail in which he was
confined for several weeks for being an abolitionist, but, much to
his disappointment, the police in charge would not admit him. During
his interview with the President he complained of this, and Lincoln

"You have had hard luck in Baltimore, haven't you, Garrison? The first
time you couldn't get out of prison and the second time you couldn't get

A woman called at the White House one day to ask the release from prison
of a relative whom she declared was suffering from great injustice. She
was very handsome and attractive and endeavored to use her attractions
upon the President. After listening to her a little while, he concluded,
as he afterwards explained, that he was "too soft" to deal with her, and
sent her over to the War Department with a sealed envelope containing a
card upon which he had written,--

"This woman, dear Stanton, is smarter than she looks to be."

Another woman came to the White House one day on an unusual errand which
the President suspected was a pretext, but he took her at her word and
gave her the following note to Major Ramsey, of the Quartermaster's

    "MY DEAR SIR:--The lady--bearer of this--says she has two
    sons who want to work. Set them at it if possible. Wanting to
    work is so rare a merit that it should be encouraged.

        A. LINCOLN."

A member of Congress from Ohio, and a famous man, by the way, once
entered the Executive Chamber in a state of intoxication,--just drunk
enough to be solemn,--and, as he dropped into a chair, exclaimed in
dramatic tones the first line of the President's favorite poem:

"'Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?'"

"I see no reason whatever," retorted the President, in disgust.

A delegation of clergymen once called to recommend one of their number
for appointment as consul at the Hawaiian Islands, and, in addition to
urging his fitness for the place, appealed to the President's sympathy
on the ground that the candidate was in bad health, and a residence in
that climate would be of great benefit to him. Lincoln questioned the
man closely as to his symptoms, and then remarked,--

"I am sorry to disappoint you, but there are eight other men after this
place, and every one of them is sicker than you are."

A party of friends from Springfield called upon him one day and, as
a matter of gossip, told him of the death and burial of a certain
prominent Illinois politician who was noted for his vanity and love of
praise. After listening to the description of his funeral, the President

"If Jim had known he was to have that kind of a funeral, he would have
died long ago."

One of the telegraph operators at the War Department relates that the
President came over there at night during the war and remarked that he
had just been reading a little book which some one had given to his son
Tad. It was a story of a motherly hen who was struggling to raise her
brood and teach them to lead honest and useful lives, but in her efforts
she was greatly annoyed by a mischievous fox who made sad havoc with her
offspring. "I thought I would turn over to the finis and see how it came
out," said the President. "This is what it said: 'And the fox became a
good fox, and was appointed paymaster in the army.' I wonder who he is?"

To a deputation that waited upon him to criticise certain acts of his
administration, he made the following response:

"Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was in gold, and you
had put it in the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River
on a rope; would you shake the cable and keep shouting out to him,
'Blondin, stand up a little straighter--Blondin, stoop a little more--go
a little faster--lean a little more to the north--lean a little more to
the south?' No, you would hold your breath as well as your tongue, and
keep your hands off until he was safe over. The government is carrying
an immense weight. Untold treasures are in our hands. We are doing the
very best we can. Don't badger us. Keep quiet, and we will get you safe

A multitude of authentic anecdotes are told to show Lincoln's kindness
of heart and his disposition to relieve the distress of those who came
to him with stories of wrong or sorrow. His readiness to pardon soldiers
who had been convicted by court-martial and sentenced to death caused
great dissatisfaction at the War Department and among the army officers,
who complained that his interference was destroying the discipline of
the service; but whenever an appeal was made to him he always endeavored
to find some reason, near or remote, for Executive clemency, and if that
was impossible, he invariably gave an order for the postponement of the
penalty until a further investigation could be made. A very flagrant
case was brought to him of a soldier who had demoralized his regiment
by throwing down his gun and running away in battle, and by trying to
shield his own cowardice by inducing others to imitate him. When tried
by court-martial there was no defence. It was shown that he was an
habitual thief, had robbed his comrades, and that he had no parents or
wife or child to excite sympathy. When Judge-Advocate-General Holt laid
the case before Lincoln, he expected him to approve the death-sentence
without hesitation. There was not the slightest excuse for clemency;
the record of the case did not contain a single item of evidence in
the man's favor. The President looked through the documents carefully,
but in vain, to find some reason why the coward should not die. Then,
running his long fingers through his hair, as he often did when puzzled,
he looked up and said,--

"The only thing I can do with this, judge, is to put it with my leg

"Leg cases!" exclaimed Judge Holt, with a frown at this supposed levity
of the President in a case of life and death. "What do you mean by leg
cases, sir?"

"Do you see those papers stuffed into those pigeonholes?"
replied Lincoln. "They are the cases that you call
'cowardice-in-the-face-of-the-enemy,' but I call them 'leg cases' for
short; and I will put it to you; I leave it for you to decide for
yourself. If Almighty God gives a man a cowardly pair of legs, how can
he help their running away with him?"

One day an old man came to him with a sad tale of sorrow. His son had
been convicted of unpardonable crimes and sentenced to death, but he was
an only son, and Lincoln said, kindly,--

"I am sorry I can do nothing for you. Listen to this telegram I received
from General Butler yesterday:

    "'President Lincoln, I pray you not to interfere with the
    courts-martial of the army. You will destroy all discipline
    among our soldiers.

        B. F. BUTLER.'"

Lincoln watched the old man's grief for a minute, and then exclaimed,
"By jingo! Butler or no Butler, here goes!" Writing a few words he
handed the paper to the old man, reading,--

    "Job Smith is not to be shot until further orders from me.


"Why," said the old man, sadly, "I thought it was a pardon. You may
order him to be shot next week."

"My old friend," replied the President, "I see you are not very well
acquainted with me. If your son never dies till orders come from me to
shoot him, he will live to be a great deal older than Methuselah."

One of the most famous cases of pardon was that of William Scott, a
young boy from a Vermont farm, who, after marching forty-eight hours
without sleep, volunteered to stand guard duty for a sick comrade in
addition to his own. Nature overcame him, he was found asleep at his
post within gunshot of the enemy, tried, convicted, and sentenced to
be shot. A day or two before the execution Lincoln happened to visit
that division of the army, and, learning of the case, asked permission
to see the boy. He entered the tent that was used for a prison, talked
to him kindly, inquired about his home, his parents, his schoolmates,
and particularly about his mother, and how she looked. The boy had her
photograph in his pocket and showed it to him, and Lincoln was very much
affected. As he was leaving the tent, he put his hands on the lad's
shoulders and said, with a trembling voice,--

"My boy, 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 the regiment. But I have been put to a great deal of trouble
on your account. I have had to come here from Washington when I had a
great deal to do. Now, what I want to know is, how are you going to pay
my bill?"

In relating the story afterwards, Scott said, "I could scarcely speak. I
had expected to die, you see, and had got kind of used to thinking that
way. To have it all changed in a minute! But I got it crowded down and
managed to say, 'I am grateful, Mr. Lincoln! I hope I am as grateful
as ever a man can be to you for saving my life. But it comes upon me
sudden and unexpected like. I didn't lay out for it at all; but there is
something to pay you, and I will find it after a little. There is the
bounty in the savings bank, and I guess we could borrow some money by a
mortgage on the farm. Then my pay is something, and if you would wait
until pay day I am sure the boys would help; so we could make it up if
it isn't more than five or six hundred dollars.' 'But it is a great deal
more than that,' he said. 'My bill is a very large one. Your friends
cannot pay it, nor your bounty, nor the farm, nor all your comrades!
There is only one man in all the world who can pay it, and his name is
William Scott! If from this day William Scott does his duty, so that,
when he comes to die, he can look me in the face as he does now, and
say, I have kept my promise, and I have done my duty as a soldier, then
my debt will be paid. Will you make that promise and try to keep it?'"

The promise was gratefully given. It is too long a story to tell of the
effect of this sympathetic kindness on Private William Scott. After
one of the battles of the Peninsula he was found shot to pieces. He
said, "Boys, I have tried to do the right thing! If any of you have
the chance, I wish you would tell President Lincoln that I have never
forgotten the kind words he said to me at the Chain Bridge; that I have
tried to be a good soldier and true to the flag; that I should have
paid my whole debt to him if I had lived; and that now, when I know I am
dying, I think of his kind face, and thank him again, because he gave me
the chance to fall like a soldier in battle and not like a coward by the
hands of my comrades."

When Francis Kernan was a member of Congress during the war, a woman
came to him one day and said that her husband had been captured as a
deserter. The next morning he called at the White House and gave the
President the facts. The man had been absent a year from his family,
and, without leave, had gone home to see them. On his way back to
the army he was arrested as a deserter and sentenced to be shot. The
sentence was to be carried out that very day.

The President listened attentively, becoming more and more interested in
the story. Finally he said, "Why, Kernan, of course this man wanted to
see his family, and they ought not to shoot him for that." So he called
his secretary and sent a telegram suspending the sentence. He exclaimed,
"Get off that just as soon as you can, or they will shoot the man in
spite of me!" The result was the man got his pardon and took his place
again in the army.

A Congressman who had failed to move Secretary Stanton to grant a
pardon, went to the White House late at night, after the President had
retired, forced the way to his bedroom, and earnestly besought his
interference, exclaiming, earnestly,--

"This man must not be shot, Mr. Lincoln."

"Well," said the President, coolly, "I do not believe shooting will do
him any good," and the pardon was granted.

The late Governor Rice, of Massachusetts, says, "It happened at one time
that Senator Henry Wilson and myself called to see President Lincoln
on a joint errand. As the door to Mr. Lincoln's room opened, a small
boy, perhaps twelve years old, slipped in between the Senator and
myself. The President appeared to be attracted to the lad, and asked,
'And who is the little boy?' an inquiry which neither the Senator nor
myself could answer. The lad, however, immediately replied that he had
come to Washington in the hope of obtaining a situation as page in the
House of Representatives. The President began to say that he must go to
Captain Goodnow, the head door-keeper of the House, as he had nothing
to do with such an appointment; upon which the lad pulled from his
pockets a recommendation from the supervisors of the town, the minister
of the parish, and others, stating also that his mother was a widow,
and pleading the necessities of the family. The President called the
boy nearer to him, took his recommendation, and wrote upon the back as

    "'If Captain Goodnow can give this good little boy a place
    he will oblige

        A. LINCOLN.'"

Mr. Titian J. Coffey, who was Assistant Attorney-General, relates that
"in the spring of 1863 a very handsome and attractive young lady from
Philadelphia came to my office with a note from a friend, asking me
to assist her in obtaining an interview with the President. Some time
before she had been married to a young man who was a lieutenant in a
Pennsylvania regiment. He had been compelled to leave her the day after
the wedding to rejoin his command in the Army of the Potomac. After
some time he obtained leave of absence, returned to Philadelphia, and
started on a brief honeymoon journey with his bride. A movement of
the army being imminent, the War Department issued a peremptory order
requiring all absent officers to rejoin their regiments by a certain
day, on penalty of dismissal in case of disobedience. The bride and
groom, away on their hurried wedding-tour, failed to see the order,
and on their return he was met by a notice of his dismissal from the
service. The young fellow was completely prostrated by the disgrace,
and his wife hurried to Washington to get him restored. I obtained for
her an interview with the President. She told her story with simple and
pathetic eloquence, and wound up by saying,--

"'Mr. Lincoln, won't you help us? I promise you, if you will restore
him, he will be faithful to his duty.'

"The President had listened to her with evident sympathy and a
half-amused smile at her earnestness, and as she closed her appeal he
said, with parental kindness,--

"'And you say, my child, that Fred was compelled to leave you the day
after the wedding? Poor fellow, I don't wonder at his anxiety to get
back, and if he stayed a little longer than he ought to have done we'll
have to overlook his fault this time. Take this card to the Secretary of
War and he will restore your husband.'

"She went to the War Department, saw the Secretary, who rebuked her
for troubling the President and dismissed her somewhat curtly. As it
happened, on her way down the War Department stairs, her hopes chilled
by the Secretary's abrupt manner, she met the President ascending. He
recognized her, and, with a pleasant smile, said,--

"'Well, my dear, have you seen the Secretary?'

"'Yes, Mr. Lincoln,' she replied, 'and he seemed very angry with me for
going to you. Won't you speak to him for me?'

"'Give yourself no trouble,' said he. 'I will see that the order is

"And in a few days her husband was remanded to his regiment. I am sorry
to add that, not long after, he was killed at the battle of Gettysburg,
thus sealing with his blood her pledge that he should be faithful to his

Attorney-General Bates, a Virginian by birth, who had many relatives in
that State, one day heard that the son of one of his old friends was a
prisoner of war and not in good health. Knowing the boy's father to be
a Union man, Mr. Bates conceived the idea of having the son paroled and
sent home, of course under promise not to return to the army. He went to
see the President and said,--

"I have a personal favor to ask. I want you to give me a prisoner." And
he told him of the case. The President said, "Bates, I have an almost
parallel case. The son of an old friend of mine in Illinois ran off and
entered the rebel army. The young fool has been captured, is a prisoner
of war, and his old broken-hearted father has asked me to send him home,
promising, of course, to keep him there. I have not seen my way clear to
do it, but if you and I unite our influence with this administration I
believe we can manage it together and make two loyal fathers happy. Let
us make them our prisoners."

Lincoln's reputation for kindness of heart extended even among the
officials of the Confederacy. Mr. Usher, Secretary of the Interior, says
that when he returned from the Peace Conference on the James, in 1864,
where he met Messrs. Stephens, Campbell, and Hunter, he related some of
his conversations with them. He said that at the conclusion of one of
his discourses, detailing what he considered to be the position in which
the insurgents were placed by the law, they replied,--

"Well, according to your view of the case, we are all guilty of treason
and liable to be hanged."

Lincoln replied, "Yes, that is so." And Mr. Stephens retorted,--

"Well, we supposed that would necessarily be your view of our case, but
we never had much fear of being hanged while you are President."

From his manner in repeating this scene he seemed to appreciate the
compliment highly. There is no evidence that he ever contemplated
executing any of the insurgents for their treason. There is no evidence
that he desired any of them to leave the country, with the exception
of Mr. Davis. His great, and apparently his only, object was to have a
restored Union.

A short time before the capitulation of General Lee, General Grant had
told him that the war must necessarily soon come to an end, and wanted
to know whether he should try to capture Jeff Davis or let him escape
from the country if he would. Mr. Lincoln said,--

"About that, I told him the story of an Irishman who had taken the
pledge of Father Mathew. He became terribly thirsty, applied to a
bar-tender for a lemonade, and while it was being prepared whispered
to him, 'And couldn't ye put a little brandy in it all unbeknown to
meself?' I told Grant if he could let Jeff Davis escape all unbeknown to
himself, to let him go. I didn't want him."

Near the close of the war his old friend, Thomas Gillespie, asked him
what was to be done with the rebels. He answered, after referring to the
vehement demand prevalent in certain quarters for exemplary punishment,
by quoting the words of David to his nephews, who were asking for
vengeance on Shimei because "he cursed the Lord's anointed:" "What
have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be
adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in

But the President could be very stern and determined when he considered
it necessary, although, when compelled by his sense of duty to withhold
a pardon, he usually gave reasons which could not be set aside and
accompanied them by a lesson of value. An officer once complained to
him, with great indignation, that General Sherman was a tyrant and a
bully and unfit to command troops. Lincoln listened attentively until
he had exhausted his wrath, and then inquired quietly if he had any
personal grievance against General Sherman.

The officer replied that General Sherman had accused him of some
misconduct and threatened to shoot him if it occurred again.

"If I were in your place," remarked the President, in a confidential
whisper, "I wouldn't repeat that offence, because Sherman is a man of
his word."

One day Mr. Nicolay brought the President a telegram from Philadelphia,
stating that a man had been arrested in that city for an attempt to
obtain fifteen hundred dollars on Lincoln's draft.

"I have given no authority for such a draft; and if I had," he added,
humorously, "it is surprising that any man could get the money."

After a moment's reflection, Mr. Nicolay thought he knew the accused

"Do you remember, Mr. President, a request from a stranger a few
days since for your autograph? You gave it to him upon a half-sheet
of note-paper. The scoundrel doubtless forged an order above your
signature, and has attempted to swindle somebody."

"Oh, that's the trick, is it?" said the President.

"What shall be done with him?" inquired Mr. Nicolay. "Have you any

"Well," replied Mr. Lincoln, pausing between the words, "I don't see but
that he will have to sit upon the blister bench."

In 1861 E. Delafield Smith was United States District Attorney for the
Southern District of New York. One of the first and most important
of his trials was that of William Gordon for slave-trading. Gordon
was convicted--the first conviction under the slave law that was ever
had in the United States either North or South--and sentenced to be
hanged. An extraordinary effort was made to have Lincoln pardon him.
Mr. Smith deemed it his duty to go to Washington and protest against
clemency. Lincoln took from his desk a reprieve already prepared and
laid it before him. He picked up a pen, and held it in his hand while
he listened to the argument of Mr. Smith on the imperative necessity
of making an example of Gordon, in order to terrorize those who were
engaged in the slave-trade. Then he threw down the pen and remarked,--

"Mr. Smith, you do not know how hard it is to have a human being die
when you feel that a stroke of your pen will save him."

Gordon was executed in New York.

A volunteer major who had been wounded at Petersburg found himself
mustered out of his regiment on that account, _nolens volens_, and
appealed to the President for an appointment on staff duty, so that
he could still continue to perform service regardless of his physical

The President took down a large volume of the laws of Congress, opened
to the page and section of the act, put his finger on the line, and read
aloud the words which authorized him to make staff appointments only
on the request of a general commanding a brigade, division, or corps.
The major admitted that he had not brought such an application, for he
had not thought it necessary. "It cannot be done," said the President,
"without such a request. I have no more power to appoint you, in the
absence of such a request, than I would have to marry a woman to any man
she might want for her husband without his consent. Bring me such an
application and I will make it at once, for I see you deserve it."

The late Governor Rice, of Massachusetts, said, "A mercantile firm in
Boston had an office boy whose duty, among other things, was to take the
mail to and from the post-office. This boy was fresh from the country,
and, seeing his opportunity to get money from the letters intrusted
to him, yielded to the temptation, was detected, convicted, and
imprisoned; but the employers and the jury joined with the boy's father
to obtain his pardon. The father appeared in Washington with a petition
numerously signed. I introduced him to the President, to whom I also
handed the petition. Mr. Lincoln put on his spectacles, threw himself
back in his chair and stretched his long legs and read the document.
When finished, he turned to me and asked if I met a man on the stairs.
'Well,' said Mr. Lincoln, 'his errand was to get a man pardoned, and now
you come to get a boy out of jail. But I am a little encouraged by your
visit. They are after me on the men, but appear to be roping you in on
the boys. The trouble appears to come from the courts. It seems as if
the courts ought to be abolished, anyway; for they appear to pick out
the very best men in the community and send them to the penitentiary,
and now they are after the same kind of boys.'"

Once he received a message from a zealous Irish soldier with more
courage than brains (or he would not have telegraphed direct to the
President), who had been left behind in the retreat of the army across
the Potomac before the advancing columns of Lee's army, with one gun
of his battery on the bank of the river below Edwards Ferry. It read
about thus: "I have the whole rebel army in my front. Send me another
gun and I assure your honor they shall not come over." This pleased the
President greatly, and he sent him an encouraging reply, suggesting that
he report his situation to his superior officer.

A rebel raid on Falls Church, a little hamlet a dozen miles
from Washington, had resulted in the surprise and capture of a
brigadier-general and twelve army mules. When Lincoln heard of it he

"How unfortunate! I can fill that general's place in five minutes, but
those mules cost us two hundred dollars apiece."

Captain Knight, who was in charge of the guard at the War Department,
said, "Mr. Lincoln's favorite time for visiting the War Department was
between eleven and twelve o'clock at night. His tall, ungainly form
wrapped in an old gray shawl, wearing usually a shockingly bad hat,
and carrying a worse umbrella, came up the steps into the building.
Secretary Stanton, who knew Mr. Lincoln's midnight habits, gave a
standing order that, although Mr. Lincoln might come from the White
House alone (and he seldom came in any other way), he should never be
permitted to return alone, but should be escorted by a file of four
soldiers and a non-commissioned officer.

"On the way to the White House, Mr. Lincoln would converse with us on
various topics. I remember one night, when it was raining very hard, as
he saw us at the door, ready to escort him, he addressed us in these
words: 'Don't come out in this storm with me to-night, boys; I have my
umbrella, and can get home safely without you.'

"'But,' I replied, 'Mr. President, we have positive orders from Mr.
Stanton not to allow you to return alone, and you know we dare not
disobey his orders.'

"'No,' replied Mr. Lincoln, 'I suppose not; for if Mr. Stanton
should learn that you had let me return alone, he would have you
court-martialed and shot inside of twenty-four hours.'

"I was detailed upon one occasion to escort the President to the
Soldiers' Home," continued Captain Knight. "As we approached the front
gate, I noticed what seemed to be a young man groping his way, as
if he were blind, across the road. Hearing the carriage and horses
approaching, he became frightened, and walked in the direction of the
approaching danger. Mr. Lincoln quickly observed this, and shouted to
the coachman to rein in his horses, which he did as they were about
to run over the unfortunate youth. He had been shot through the left
side of the upper part of the face, and the ball, passing from one side
to the other, had put out both his eyes. He could not have been over
sixteen or seventeen years of age, and, aside from his blindness, he
had a very beautiful face. Mr. Lincoln extended his hand to him, and
while he held it he asked him, with a voice trembling with emotion, his
name, his regiment, and where he lived. The young man answered these
questions and stated that he lived in Michigan; and then Mr. Lincoln
made himself known to the blind soldier, and with a look that was a
benediction in itself, spoke to him a few words of sympathy and bade him
good-by. The following day after his interview with the President he
received a commission as a first lieutenant in the regular army of the
United States, accompanied by an order of retirement upon full pay; and,
if he is living to-day, he is doubtless drawing the salary of a first
lieutenant in the United States army on the retired list."

The most important battle of the war was fought at the polls in
the Northern States in November, 1864, and from the hour that the
result was announced the Southern Confederacy was doomed. It lost the
confidence and respect of the people within its own jurisdiction and
of the nations of Europe. Several attempts were made by the Southern
leaders to open negotiations for peace, but President Lincoln gave
them plainly to understand that he could not recognize the Confederacy
as anything but a rebellion against the government. Then General Lee
undertook "to meet General Grant with the hope that ... it may be found
practicable to submit the subjects of controversy ... to a convention,"
etc. Grant immediately wired Lee's letter to Mr. Stanton, who received
it at the Capitol on the last night of the session of Congress, where
the President, attended by his Cabinet, had gone, as usual, to sign
bills. Having read the telegram, Mr. Stanton handed it to the President
without comment. By this time Lincoln felt himself completely master of
the situation. He knew the people were behind him and would approve
whatever he thought best for the welfare of the country. He had full
confidence in the commanders of his armies and knew that they were
crowding the Confederates into the last ditch. Therefore, for the first
time since the beginning of the war, he could act promptly upon his
individual judgment. Without consulting any one, he wrote the following
despatch, which, without a word, he passed over the table for Stanton to
sign and send:

"The President directs me to say that he wishes you to have no
conference with General Lee, unless it be for capitulation of General
Lee's army or on some minor or purely military matter. He instructs me
to say that you are not to decide, discuss, or confer upon any political
questions. Such questions the President holds in his own hand and will
submit them to no military conferences or conventions. Meanwhile you are
to press to the utmost your military advantages."

This little despatch crushed the last hope of the Confederate
authorities; but, before the end could come, Lee resolved to make
one more desperate attempt to escape from the toils in which he was
involved. His assault was made with great spirit on March 25, and
from that day until April 7 there was fighting all along the line. In
the mean time Lincoln went down to City Point, where Grant had his
head-quarters, on the James River a few miles below Richmond, and there
had a conference with the three great heroes of the war, Sherman having
come from North Carolina and Sheridan from the other side of Richmond.
It was a remarkable meeting,--the first and last time these four men
were ever together.

After the conference, at which Lincoln expressed his sympathy with
the desperate situation in which the Confederates were placed, Grant
sent a note through the lines to Lee, saying, "The results of the
last week must have convinced you of the hopelessness of further
resistance," and added that he regarded it a duty "to shift from myself
the responsibility of any further effusion of blood" by asking Lee's
surrender. Lee replied that he reciprocated the desire to avoid further
bloodshed, and asked for terms. Grant answered that there was only one
condition, that the officers and men surrendered should be disqualified
from taking up arms again. Lee replied the next day that he did not
think the emergency had arisen for the surrender of his army, but
offered to meet Grant at ten o'clock the next morning on the old stage
line to Richmond between the pickets of the two armies. Grant answered
that "the terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the
South laying down their arms they will hasten that most desirable event,
save thousands of human lives and hundreds of millions of property."
Lee had hoped to arrest the movement of the Union troops by entering
into negotiations, but found that Grant understood his purpose and was
drawing more closely around him, so he accepted the inevitable and asked
an interview for the surrender of his army.

The meeting at the McLean mansion at Appomattox has been too often
described to require reference in these pages, except to call attention
to the fact that General Grant's letter accepting the surrender of Lee's
army was in direct violation of the amnesty proclamation of December 8,
1863, and President Lincoln's order sent from the Capital on the night
of March 3. No one knows whether Lincoln ever called his attention to
that fact. There is no record of a reprimand or even a comment from
the President, and it is probable that his joy and gratitude were so
overwhelming that he did not even question the terms. General Grant,
however, in his "Memoirs," says that he was overcome by feelings of
sympathy for his heroic antagonist, and that the closing sentence of his
letter, which practically pardoned the entire army, was written without
a thought of its far-reaching significance.

President Lincoln was the same man in triumph that he had been in
distress. Neither joy nor grief could disconcert him, but no one
witnessed the enthusiasm of the public over the news from Appomattox
with greater gratification. The story of his visit to Richmond is told
in Chapter VI. Upon his return to Washington he took up at once the
important work of restoring order in the South with as much zeal and
energy as he had shown in the prosecution of the war.

On April 11, from one of the windows of the White House, in response to
a serenade, he delivered his last speech, in which he departed from the
habit of reticence he had practised throughout the war and expressed
more of his views and purposes than he had ever previously done on a
similar occasion.

April 14, the anniversary of the evacuation of Fort Sumter, was
celebrated by restoring the identical flag to the staff from which it
had been lowered four years before. General Robert Anderson performed
that thankful duty; the Rev. Matthias Harris, the former chaplain of
Fort Sumter, offered prayer; General E. D. Townsend read the original
despatch announcing the evacuation; and Henry Ward Beecher delivered a
brilliant oration, which concluded with these words:

"We offer to the President of these United States our solemn
congratulations that God has sustained his life and health under the
unparalleled burdens and sufferings of four bloody years, and permitted
him to behold this auspicious confirmation of that national unity for
which he has waited with so much patience and fortitude, and for which
he has labored with such disinterested wisdom."

General Grant, who arrived in Washington on the morning of the 14th,
expressed anxiety concerning the situation of General Sherman, because
he had heard nothing from him for several days. The President assured
him that he need have no concern, because the night before he had
dreamed that he was on board a curious vessel sailing rapidly towards a
dark and indefinite shore, and awoke before landing. He said he had had
exactly the same dream before the battles of Antietam, Murfreesborough,
Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and other great victories. Although the members
of the Cabinet were accustomed to similar revelations of that mysticism
which was one of Lincoln's characteristics, they were greatly impressed;
but Grant dismissed it with the comment that there was no victory at
Murfreesborough, and that the battle there had no important results.
The President did not seem to notice this matter-of-fact remark, and
continued to describe his dream and the sensations which followed it,
insisting that Sherman would soon report an important victory, because
he could think of no other possible event to which his dream might
refer. Twelve days later, April 26, came the news of the surrender of
Johnston's army to Sherman and the end of the war.

In the presence of General Grant, the Cabinet discussed the subject
of reconstruction. As there was a difference of opinion and lack of
information concerning the proposed regulations for governing trade
between the States, the President appointed Mr. Stanton, Mr. Welles, and
Mr. McCulloch a committee to submit recommendations.

At the previous Cabinet meeting Secretary Stanton had submitted a plan
for the re-establishment of civil government, which was discussed at
length. It was providential, the President said, that Congress would
not sit again for at least seven months, which would allow him time to
restore order and civil authority without interference. He expressed
sympathy with the people of the South and a desire to avoid further
bloodshed and exhibitions of resentment or vindictiveness. He believed
that they needed charity more than censure. He said that he would not
permit the severe punishment of the Southern leaders, notwithstanding
the clamor from the North. No one need expect to take any part in
hanging or killing these men, even the worst of them.

"Frighten them out of the country!" he exclaimed, throwing his arms
around as if he were driving sheep; "let down the bars; scare them off!
Enough lives have been sacrificed; we must extinguish our resentment if
we expect harmony and union!"

Secretary Welles records in his diary this extraordinary scene at the
last meeting of the Lincoln Cabinet, and adds that, as the President
dismissed his advisers, he urged them to give the most earnest
consideration to the problem that had been presented by the restoration
of peace.

The President spent the rest of the day with his son Robert and other
personal friends, violating his rule and refusing to admit any one on
official business. During the afternoon he went with Mrs. Lincoln for
a long drive, and seemed to be in an unusually happy and contented
mood. She said that he talked of going back to Springfield to practise
law. His heart was overflowing with gratitude to the Heavenly Father,
he said, for all His goodness, and particularly for the close of the
war and the triumph of the Union arms, for there would be no further
bloodshed or distress. The members of his family and his secretaries
agree that they never had known him to be in such a satisfied and
contented state of mind. The clouds that had hung over him for four
years had cleared away; the war was over, peace was restored, and the
only duty left to him was extremely grateful to his nature,--the task of
restoring happiness and prosperity.

[Illustration: JOHN WILKES BOOTH

From a photograph by Brady]

After dinner that evening Mr. Colfax and Mr. Ashmun, of the House of
Representatives, who were about to leave Washington for the summer,
came to inquire if the President intended to call an extra session of
Congress. He assured them that he did not; and, as they were leaving
the White House, Ward Lamon, the United States Marshal of the District
of Columbia, and one of his oldest friends, called to ask a pardon for
an old soldier who had been convicted of violating the army regulations.
According to the recollection of Mr. Pendel, one of the President's
messengers, Lincoln told his last story at that time. As he was about to
sign the pardon, he turned to Lamon, saying,--

"Lamon, do you know how the Patagonians eat oysters?"

"No, I do not, Mr. Lincoln," was the reply.

"It is their habit to open them as fast as they can and throw the shells
out of the window, and when the pile of shells grows to be higher than
the house, why, they pick up stakes and move. Now, Lamon, I felt like
beginning a new pile of pardons, and I guess this is a good one to begin

The President, Mrs. Lincoln, and General and Mrs. Grant had accepted a
box at Ford's Theatre that evening, and, the fact having been announced
in the newspapers, there was a large attendance. Providentially General
Grant changed his mind at the last moment and took a train for New
York instead. Mrs. Lincoln invited Miss Harris and Major Rathbone, the
daughter and step-son of Senator Ira Harris, of New York, to take the
vacant places, and the party arrived at the theatre shortly after the
curtain rose. About ten o'clock John Wilkes Booth, a dissipated young
actor and fanatical sympathizer of the South, pushed his way through the
crowd to the President's box, showed a card to the usher who had been
placed at the door to keep out inquisitive people, and was allowed to
enter. The eyes of the President and his companions were fixed upon the
stage, so that his entrance was unnoticed. Carrying a knife in his left
hand, Booth approached within arm's length of the President and fired a
pistol; dropping that weapon, he took the knife in his right hand and
struck savagely at Major Rathbone, who caught the blow upon his left
arm, receiving a deep wound. Booth then vaulted over the railing of the
box upon the stage, but his spur caught in the folds of the drapery and
he fell, breaking his leg. Staggering to the footlights, he brandished
his dripping knife, shouted in a tragic manner "_Sic semper tyrannis_,"
the State motto of Virginia, and disappeared between the flies.

Major Rathbone shouted "Stop him!" The actors upon the stage were
stupefied by fright and surprise, and it was several seconds before the
audience realized what had happened. They were brought to their senses
by some one who shouted, "He has shot the President!" Several men jumped
upon the stage in pursuit of the assassin, while three army surgeons
who happened to be present forced their way through the crowd to the
President's box. As soon as a passage could be cleared, the President
was carried across the street and laid upon a bed in a small house,
where Mrs. Lincoln followed him almost overcome by the shock from which
she never recovered. Major Rathbone, exhausted by the loss of blood, was
carried home. Messengers were sent for the Cabinet, for the President's
family physician, and for the Surgeon-General of the army. Robert
Lincoln and John Hay learned the news from the shouts of a frantic crowd
which soon poured through the gates of the White House, and hurried at
once to the little house on Tenth Street. On their way they were told
that most of the Cabinet had been murdered.

The physicians who surrounded the President's bed pronounced the wound
fatal. The assassin's bullet entered the back of his head on the left
side, passed through the brain, and lodged behind the left ear. But
for his powerful physique and his abundant vitality, it would have
brought instant death. He never recovered consciousness, but lingered
through the night and died at twenty-two minutes past seven in the
morning. Dr. Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church,
which the President attended, was kneeling in prayer by his bedside;
Surgeon-General Barnes, of the army, had his finger upon the President's
pulse; Robert Lincoln, Senator Sumner, and one of the assistant
secretaries leaned upon the foot of the bed. Colonel Hay describes the
scene as follows:

"As the dawn came and the lamplight grew pale in the fresher beams, his
pulse began to fail; but his face even then was scarcely more haggard
than those of the sorrowing group of statesmen and generals around him.
His automatic moaning, which had continued through the night, ceased;
a look of unspeakable peace came upon his worn features. At twenty-two
minutes after seven he died. Stanton broke the silence by saying, 'Now
he belongs to the ages.' Dr. Gurley kneeled by the bedside and prayed
fervently. The widow came in from the adjoining room, supported by her
son, and cast herself with loud outcry on the dead body."



Abraham Lincoln's hatred of slavery was inborn, but its development
began when he saw human beings sold at auction on the levee at New
Orleans and chained and beaten upon the decks of Mississippi River
steamboats on their way to market. These horrors were first witnessed by
him when he made his voyage on the flat-boat from Gentryville, and the
impression was deepened upon his second journey four years later from
New Salem. Even to the day of his death the recollection was vivid. He
alluded to it frequently while the slave problem was perplexing him and
his advisers during the war, and the picture was before his eyes when
he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. As one of his companions said,
"Slavery ran the iron into him then and there."

However, the mind of the boy had been prepared for this impression
by the teachings of his mother. In 1804 a crusade against slavery in
Kentucky was started by the itinerant preachers of the Baptist Church,
and the Rev. Jesse Head, the minister who married Thomas Lincoln and
Nancy Hanks, was a bold abolitionist and boldly proclaimed the doctrine
of human liberty wherever he went. Lincoln's father and mother were
among his most devoted disciples, and when he was a mere child Abraham
Lincoln inherited their hatred of human servitude. "If slavery is not
wrong, nothing is wrong," he once said in a speech. "I cannot remember
when I did not think so and feel so."

Down in a corner of Indiana where the Lincolns lived there were slaves
for years after the admission of the State to the Union, in spite of the
ordinance of 1787 and the statutes which Lincoln read in his youth. Nor
was the fact a secret. The census of 1820 showed one hundred and ninety
slaves, but during the next year the State Supreme Court declared them

In the following year (1822) occurred a great moral revolution on the
frontier. Then commenced the struggle between the friends and opponents
of slavery which lasted until the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
Abraham Lincoln, with the preparation I have described, was from the
beginning an active participant, and gradually became a leader in one of
the greatest controversies that has ever engaged the intellectual and
moral forces of the world.

In 1822, eight years before the Lincoln family left Indiana, an attempt
was made to introduce slavery into Illinois, and was defeated by Edward
Coles, of Virginia, the Governor, who gave his entire salary for four
years to pay the expense of the contest. The antislavery members of the
Legislature contributed a thousand dollars to the fund, which was spent
in the distribution of literature on the subject. For a time the storm
subsided, but the deep hatred of the iniquity was spreading through
the North, and abolition societies were being organized in every city
and village where the friends of human freedom existed in sufficient
numbers to sustain themselves against the powerful proslavery sentiment.
Occasionally there was a public discussion, but the controversy raged
most fiercely at the corner groceries, at the county court-house, and
at other places where thinking men were in the habit of assembling, and
Lincoln was always ready and eager to enter the debates. His convictions
were formed and grew firmer as he studied the question, and his moral
courage developed with them. It was a good deal of an ordeal for an
ambitious young man just beginning his career to attack a popular
institution, in the midst of a community many of whom had been born and
educated in slave States and considered what he believed a curse to be
a divine institution. Nevertheless, the sense of justice and humanity
stimulated Abraham Lincoln to take his place upon the side of freedom,
and he never lost an opportunity to denounce slavery as founded on
injustice and wrong.

His first opportunity to make a public avowal of his views occurred
in 1838, when the Illinois Legislature passed a series of resolutions
declaring that the right of property in slaves is sacred to the
slave-holding States by the Federal Constitution, and "that we highly
disapprove of the formation of abolition societies and of the doctrines
promulgated by them." Lincoln and five other members of the Legislature
voted against these resolutions; and in order to make his position more
fully understood by his constituents and the members of the Whig party
throughout the State, he prepared a protest, which he persuaded Dan
Stone, one of his colleagues from Sangamon County, to sign with him,
and, at their request, it was spread upon the journal of the House, as

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

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

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

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

"The difference between these opinions and those contained in the said
resolutions is their reasons for entering this protest."

This, I am confident, is the first formal declaration against the system
of slavery that was made in any legislative body in the United States,
at least west of the Hudson River.

A few months after this event occurred the tragic death of the Rev.
Elijah P. Lovejoy, editor of a religious newspaper at Alton, whose
antislavery editorials enraged the proslavery mob, which murdered him
and threw his press and type into the Mississippi River. In this case,
as in many others, the blood of a martyr was the seed of the faith.
The mob that murdered Elijah P. Lovejoy did more to crystallize public
opinion and stimulate the movement than all the arguments and appeals
uttered up to that date.

After his bold action in the Legislature Lincoln was recognized as the
antislavery leader in the central part of Illinois, but was frequently
the object of criticism because of his conservative views. He argued,
then, as he did twenty-five years later, that the Constitution of the
United States was sacred, and as long as it existed must be obeyed. It
recognized the right to hold slaves in certain States, and therefore
that right could not be denied until the Constitution was appropriately
amended. The friends of freedom were at liberty to denounce the great
wrong, but they must proceed legally in securing its removal. This
position was taken by Lincoln when he was only twenty-eight years
old, and he held it until the abolition of slavery became a military
necessity. At the same time he was patiently and confidently trying to
educate public sentiment and lead the abolition movement in the right

Lincoln's second opportunity to place himself formally on record
occurred when he was a member of the House of Representatives, where
the controversy had been carried long before, and had been revived and
vitalized by the treaty with Mexico at the close of the war of 1848,
which added to the United States a territory as large as half of Europe.
The slave-holders immediately demanded it for their own, but in the
previous Congress the Whig and antislavery Democrats had succeeded in
attaching to an appropriation bill an amendment known as the Wilmot
Proviso, which prohibited the extension of slavery into the territory
recently acquired. This had been followed up by the adoption of similar
provisions wherever the Whigs could get an opportunity to attach them
to other legislation. Lincoln used to say that during his two years in
Congress he voted for the Wilmot Proviso in one form or another more
than fifty times.

Upon his arrival in Washington his horror of the slavery system and the
impressions received during his voyages to New Orleans were revived by
witnessing the proceedings and the distress in the slave-markets of the
national capital, and he determined to devote his best efforts to a
removal of that scandal and reproach. Fifteen years later, in one of his
speeches during the debate with Douglas, he described the slave-shambles
of Washington, and said, "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, has been openly maintained for more than fifty years."

He believed that Congress had power under the Constitution to regulate
all affairs in the Territories and the District of Columbia, and, after
consulting with several of the leading citizens of Washington, he
introduced a bill for the gradual abolition of slavery in the District
of Columbia. The first two sections prohibit the introduction of slaves
within the limits of the District or the selling of them out of it,
exception being made to the servants of officials of the government
from the slave-holding States. The third section provides for the
apprenticeship and gradual emancipation of children born of slave
mothers after January 1, 1850. The fourth provides full compensation for
all slaves voluntarily made free by their owners. The fifth recognizes
the fugitive-slave law, and the sixth submits the proposition to a
popular vote, and provides that it shall not go into force until
ratified by a majority of the voters of the District.

This bill met with more violent opposition from other parts of the
country than from the slave-holders who were directly affected.
The people of the South feared that it might serve as a precedent
for similar actions in other parts of the country and stimulate
the antislavery sentiment of the North. On the other hand, the
abolitionists, with that unreasonable spirit which usually governs men
of radical views, condemned the measure as a compromise with wrong, and
declared that they would never permit money from the public treasury
to be expended for the purchase of human beings. No action was taken
in Congress. The bill was referred to the appropriate committee and
was stuffed into a pigeonhole, where it was never disturbed; but it
is a remarkable coincidence that less than fifteen years later it was
Lincoln's privilege to approve an act of Congress for the abolition of
slavery in the District of Columbia.

It is interesting to watch the development of Lincoln's views on the
slavery question, as revealed by his public utterances and private
letters during the great struggle between 1850 and 1860, until the
people of the republic named him as umpire to decide the greatest
question that ever engaged the moral and intellectual attention of a
people. Here and there appear curious phrases, startling predictions,
vivid epigrams, and unanswerable arguments. For example, in 1855 he
declared that "the autocrat of all the Russias will resign his crown
and proclaim free republicans sooner than will our American masters
voluntarily give up their slaves." A reference to the dates will show
that Alexander II., by imperial decree, emancipated the serfs of Russia
almost upon the same day, at the same hour, that the Southern States
began the greatest war of modern times to protect and extend the
institution of slavery.

At Rochester, in the summer of 1859, Mr. Seward furnished the Republican
party a watch-cry when he called it "the irrepressible conflict," but
two years before and repeatedly after Lincoln uttered the same idea in
almost the same phrase. In three Presidential campaigns, in two contests
for the Senate, and in almost every local political contest after 1840
slavery was the principal theme of his speeches, until the Douglas
debate of 1858 caused him to be recognized as the most powerful advocate
and defender of antislavery doctrines.

Senator Douglas found great amusement in accusing Lincoln of a desire
to establish social equality between the whites and the blacks, and in
his speeches seldom failed to evoke a roar of laughter by declaring that
"Abe Lincoln" and other abolitionists "wanted to marry niggers." Lincoln
paid no attention to this vulgar joke until he saw that it was becoming
serious, and that many people actually believed that the abolitionists
were proposing to do what Douglas had said. He attempted to remove this
impression by a serious discussion of the doctrine of equality, and in
one of his speeches declared, "I protest against the counterfeit logic
which concludes that because I do not want a black woman for a slave
I must necessarily want her for a wife." In another speech he said,
"I shall never marry a negress, but I have no objection to any one
else doing so. If a white man wants to marry a negro woman, let him do
it,--if the negro woman can stand it."

[Illustration: ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN 1864

From a photograph in the War Department Collection]

At another time he said, "If I saw a venomous snake crawling in the
road, any man would say I might seize the nearest stick and kill it;
but if I found that snake in bed with my children, that would be
another question. I might hurt the children more than the snake, and
it might bite them. Much more, it I found it in bed with my neighbor's
children, and I had bound myself by a solemn compact not to meddle with
his children under any circumstances, it would become me to let that
particular mode of getting rid of that gentleman alone. But if there was
a bed newly made up, to which the children were to be taken, and it was
proposed to take a batch of young snakes and put them there with them, I
take it that no man would question how I ought to decide."

In his Cooper Union speech may be found his strongest argument. "If
slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and constitutions against it
are themselves wrong, and should be silenced and swept away. If it is
right, we cannot justly object to its nationality,--its universality.
If it is wrong, they cannot justly insist upon its extension,--its
enlargement. All they ask we could readily grant, if we thought slavery
right; all we ask they could as readily grant, if they thought it wrong.
Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, is the precise
fact upon which depends the whole controversy.... Wrong as we think
slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because
that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in
the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to
spread into the national Territories, and to overrun us here in the
free States? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by
our duty fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of
those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied
and belabored, contrivances such as groping for some middle ground
between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should
be neither a living man nor a dead man; such as a policy of 'don't
care,' on a question about which all true men do care; such as Union
appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to disunionists; reversing
the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to
repentance; such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay
what Washington said, and undo what Washington did. Neither let us be
slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened
from it by menaces of destruction to the government nor of dungeons to
ourselves. 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."

In a letter dated July 28, 1859, he wrote, "There is another thing
our friends are doing which gives me some uneasiness.... Douglas's
popular sovereignty, accepted by the public mind as a just principle,
nationalizes slavery, and revives the African slave-trade inevitably.
Taking slaves into new Territories, and buying slaves in Africa, are
identical things, identical rights or identical wrongs, and the argument
which establishes one will establish the other. Try a thousand years for
a sound reason why Congress shall not hinder the people of Kansas from
having slaves, and when you have found it, it will be an equally good
one why Congress should not hinder the people of Georgia from importing
slaves from Africa."

While he was campaigning in Ohio, in 1859, occurred the John Brown
episode at Harper's Ferry, which created intense excitement throughout
the entire country and particularly in the South, where it was
interpreted as an organized attempt of the abolitionists to arouse an
insurrection among the slaves. In his speeches Lincoln did much to
allay public sentiment in Illinois, for he construed the attack upon
Harper's Ferry with his habitual common sense. He argued that it was not
a slave insurrection, but an attempt to organize one in which the slaves
refused to participate, and he compared it with many attempts related
in history to assassinate kings and emperors. "An enthusiast broods
over the oppression of a people until he fancies himself commissioned by
heaven to liberate them. He ventures the attempt, which ends in little
else than his own execution. Orsini's attempt on Louis Napoleon and John
Brown's attempt at Harper's Ferry were, in their philosophy, precisely
the same. The eagerness to cast blame on Old England in one case and
on New England in the other does not disprove the sameness of the two

It was not long after the inauguration that President Lincoln was
compelled to treat the slavery problem in a practical manner. To him
it ceased to be a question of morals and became an actual, perplexing
problem continually appearing in every direction and in various forms.
The first movement of troops dislodged from the plantations of their
owners a multitude of slaves, who found their way to the camps of the
Union army and were employed as servants, teamsters, and often as
guides. The Northern soldier took a sympathetic interest in the escaped
slave, and as fast as he advanced into slave territory the greater that
sympathy became. A Virginia planter looking for a fugitive slave in a
Union camp was a familiar object of ridicule and derision, and he seldom
found any satisfaction.

One day the representative of Colonel Mallory, a Virginia planter, came
into the Union lines at Fortress Monroe and demanded three field-hands
who, he asserted, were at that time in the camp. General B. F. Butler,
who was in command, replied that, as Virginia claimed to be a foreign
country, the fugitive-slave law could not possibly be in operation
there, and declined to surrender the negroes unless the owner would take
the oath of allegiance to the United States. A newspaper correspondent,
in reporting this incident, took the ground that, as the Confederate
commanders were using negroes as laborers upon fortifications, under
international law they were clearly contraband of war. A new word was
coined. From that moment, and until the struggle was over, escaped
negroes were known as "contrabands," and public opinion in the North
decided that they were subject to release or confiscation by military
right and usage. General Butler always assumed the credit of formulating
that doctrine, and insisted that the correspondent had adopted a
suggestion overheard at the mess-table; but, however it originated,
it had more influence upon the solution of the problem than volumes
of argument might have had. When it became known among the negroes in
Virginia that the Union troops would not send them back to slavery,
the plantations were deserted and the Northern camps were crowded with
men, women, and children of all ages, who had to be clothed and fed.
General Butler relieved the embarrassment by sending the able-bodied men
to work upon the fortifications, by utilizing the women as cooks and
laundresses, and by permitting his officers to employ them as servants.

After a time the exodus spread to Washington, and the slaves in that
city began to find their way across the Potomac into the military camps,
which caused a great deal of dissatisfaction and seemed to have an
unfavorable effect upon the political action of Maryland, West Virginia,
Kentucky, and Missouri; so that President Lincoln was appealed to from
all sides to order the execution of the fugitive-slave law in States
which he was trying to keep in the Union. He believed that public
sentiment was growing and would ultimately furnish a solution. He quoted
the Methodist presiding elder, riding about his circuit at the time
of the spring freshets, whose young companion showed great anxiety as
to how they should cross Fox River, then very much swollen. The elder
replied that he had made it the rule of his life never to cross Fox
River until he came to it.

With the same philosophical spirit, Lincoln made the negro question
"a local issue," to be treated by each commander and the police of
each place as circumstances suggested, and, under his instructions,
the commandant at Washington issued an order that "fugitive slaves
will under no pretext whatever be permitted to reside, or be in any
way harbored, in the quarters and camps of the troops serving in this
department." This served to satisfy the complaints of the Maryland
planters and the slave-holders of the District of Columbia until
Congress passed the confiscation act, which forfeited the property
rights of disloyal owners. That was the first step towards emancipation.

President Lincoln's plan to invest military commanders with practical
authority to solve the negro problem according to their individual
judgment soon got him into trouble, especially with his Secretary of
War, for the latter, in his report to Congress, without the knowledge of
the President and without consulting him, explained the policy of the
government as follows:

"If it shall be found that the men who have been held by the rebels as
slaves are capable of bearing arms and performing efficient military
service, it is right, and may become the duty, of the government to arm
and equip them, and employ their services against the rebels, under
proper military regulation, discipline, and command."

The report did not reach the public; it was suppressed and modified
before being printed in the newspapers; but that paragraph made Mr.
Cameron's resignation necessary. As amended, the report contained
a simple declaration that fugitive and abandoned slaves, being an
important factor in the military situation, would not be returned to
disloyal masters, but would be employed so far as possible in the
services of the Union army, and withheld from the enemy until Congress
should make some permanent disposition of them.

Lincoln was severely criticised by the antislavery newspapers of the
North. But he did not lose his patience, and in his message to Congress
declared his intention to keep the integrity of the Union prominent "as
the primary object of the contest on our part, leaving all questions
which are not of vital military importance to the more deliberate
action of the Legislature." But while he was writing these guarded and
ambiguous phrases he had already decided to propose a plan of voluntary
abolition for the District of Columbia similar to that he had offered
in Congress thirteen years before. It was a measure of expediency and
delay. He evidently had no expectation that such a proposition would
be adopted. He undoubtedly realized that it was impossible; but his
political sagacity and knowledge of human nature taught him that the
public, to use a homely but significant expression which was familiar to
his childhood, "must have something to chaw on," and further illustrated
his point by reminding a caller how easily an angry dog might be
diverted by throwing him a bone.

He soon followed this up by proposing to Delaware a scheme for the
purchase by the government of the seventeen hundred and ninety-eight
slaves shown by the census of 1860 to be still held in that State, at
the rate of four hundred dollars per capita. A majority of the Lower
House of the Legislature of Delaware accepted the idea, but the Senate
rejected it and the subject was dropped. But Lincoln did not allow the
minds of his antislavery critics to rest. He kept them busy discussing
new propositions, and on March 6, 1862, sent a special message to the
two Houses of Congress recommending the gradual abolishment of slavery
by furnishing to the several States from the public treasury sufficient
funds "to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private,
produced by such change of system." By this proposition he avoided the
objections to the general government interfering with the domestic
affairs of the States, and left the people of each State to arrange for
emancipation in their own way. "It is proposed as a matter of perfectly
free choice with them," he said in his message, and again called
attention to the probable effects of the war upon the slave situation.
The representatives of the border States in Congress took no heed of
the warning, but the Northern papers devoted a great deal of space to
a discussion of the proposition, and Lincoln's purpose of giving them
something to talk about was accomplished. The most serious objection was
based upon the enormous expenses. As early as 1839 Henry Clay estimated
the value of the slaves at one billion two hundred and fifty million
dollars, and upon the same basis of calculation it must have exceeded
two billion dollars in 1860; but Lincoln answered that one-half day's
cost of the war would pay for all the slaves in Delaware at four hundred
dollars a head, and that eighty-seven days' cost would pay for all the
slaves in the border States.

He called together the Congressional delegates from the border States
and made an earnest effort to convince them of the expediency of his
plan. The House of Representatives adopted it by a two-thirds vote,
although few of the members from Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri voted
with the affirmative. A month later the resolution was concurred in by
the Senate, and what Thaddeus Stevens, the radical leader of the House,
described as "the most diluted milk-and-water-gruel proposition ever
given to the American people" became a law.

It is not necessary to say that the Legislatures of the border States
never had an opportunity to take advantage of the proposition; history
moved too fast for them. But Lincoln at once began a systematic campaign
in Congress to secure legislation for the purchase of all the slaves
belonging to loyal owners in the District of Columbia, and that became a
law on April 16, 1862.

Public opinion was being rapidly educated; the Republican majority in
Congress was pledged to the doctrine of emancipation; the slave-holders
in the border States were being led gradually to realize the inevitable,
and if they had been wise they would promptly have accepted the
generosity of the President's proposition and thus have escaped the
enormous pecuniary losses which they suffered by the Emancipation
Proclamation a little later.

Before Congress adjourned, laws were passed which materially altered the
situation. The army was prohibited from surrendering fugitive slaves;
the confiscation act was greatly enlarged; all slaves actually employed
in military service by the Confederacy were declared free; the President
was authorized to enlist negro regiments for the war; the Missouri
Compromise was restored; slavery was forbidden in all Territories of the
United States; appropriations were made for carrying into effect the
treaty with Great Britain to suppress the slave-trade; the independence
and sovereignty of Hayti and Liberia, two black republics, were formally
recognized, and two nations of negroes, with negro Presidents, negro
officials, and negro ambassadors, were admitted on an equality into the
sisterhood of civilized nations. Any one who would have predicted such
legislation a year previous would have been considered insane, even six
months previous it would have been declared impossible.

The next sensation was an emancipation proclamation issued by General
David Hunter, who commanded the Department of the South, which declared
free all persons held as slaves in the States of Georgia, Florida, and
South Carolina. Lincoln promptly vetoed Hunter's order and declared
it unauthorized and void, saying that he reserved to himself, "as
Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy, to declare the slaves of
any State or States free" when "it shall have become a necessity
indispensable to the maintenance of the government."

This announcement should have satisfied the North and have been a
sufficient warning to the South, because as we read it now we can see
Lincoln's purposes between the lines.

The President could not permit the Congressional delegations from
the border States to return to their constituents without one more
admonition and one more appeal to their patriotism and their sense of
justice and wisdom. He called them to the White House and read to them a
carefully prepared argument in support of his plan to sell their slaves
to the government. Two-thirds of them united in an explanation of their
reasons for rejecting the scheme on account of its impracticability, and
the remainder promised to submit it to their constituents. The reception
of this last appeal convinced Lincoln that he could do nothing by moral
suasion, and he immediately determined to try the use of force.

"It has got to be," he told a friend afterwards. "We had played our last
card and must change our tactics or lose the game; and 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."

On July 22, 1862, he read to his Cabinet the first draft of a
proclamation, not for the purpose of asking their advice, he told them,
but for their information. But every man was pledged to confidence,
and the secret was so well kept that the public had no suspicion of
his intention, and the radical newspapers and abolitionists continued
to criticise and attack him in a most abusive manner. A committee of
clergymen from Chicago came to Washington to urge him to issue an
emancipation proclamation. He received them respectfully, but did not
tell them that their wishes would have been anticipated but for the
defeat of the Union army at the second battle of Bull Run. He made
them an eloquent but evasive speech, and appealed to their good sense.
"Now, gentlemen," he said, "if I cannot enforce the Constitution down
South, how can I enforce a mere Presidential proclamation? 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."

Mr. Colfax, who accompanied the delegation, says that "one of these
ministers felt it his duty to make a more searching appeal to the
President's conscience. Just as they were retiring, he turned and said
to Mr. Lincoln,--

"'What you have said to us, Mr. President, compels me to say, in
reply, that it is a message to you from our Divine Master, through me,
commanding you, sir, to open the doors of bondage that the slave may go

"Mr. Lincoln replied instantly, 'That may be, sir, for I have studied
this question by night and by day for weeks and for months; but if it
is, as you say, a message from your Divine Master, is it not odd that
the only channel he could send it by was that roundabout route by that
awfully wicked city of Chicago?'

"In discussing the question, he used to liken the case to that of the
boy who, when asked how many legs his calf would have if he called his
tail a leg, replied, 'Five.' To which the prompt response was made that
_calling_ the tail a leg would not _make_ it a leg.

"He sought to measure so accurately, so precisely, the public sentiment
that, whenever he advanced, the loyal hosts of the nation would keep
step with him. In regard to the policy of arming the slaves against the
Rebellion, never, until the tide of patriotic volunteering had ebbed and
our soldiers saw their ranks rapidly melting away, could our colored
troops have been added to their brigades without perilous discontent, if
not open revolt. Against all appeals, all demands, against even threats
of some members of his party, Lincoln stood like a rock on this question
until he felt that the opportune moment had arrived."

Not only was he denounced by the abolitionists, but by the foremost
leaders of the Republican party, such as Benjamin F. Wade and Horace
Greeley, and received appeals from loyal people of the South, to whom he
replied, with his usual patience, "What is done and omitted about the
slaves is done and omitted on the same military necessity. I shall not
do more than I can, and shall do all that I can, to save the government."

In his view, military necessity was the only justification for the
violation of the Constitution, which protected the slaves. In the
second place, his delay was due to a doubt whether public sentiment in
the North was prepared for a measure so radical and far-reaching; by
his hope that the people of the border States would soon be willing
to accept the act as a friendly as well as a necessary solution of
a dilemma; and, finally, because of his profound respect for the
Constitution which he had sworn to maintain. He would not free the negro
because the Constitution stood in his way, and only for the sake of the
Union was he willing to override that sacred instrument. This purpose
was tersely expressed when, under great provocation, he allowed himself
to violate his own rule and reply to Horace Greeley, who had attacked
him in an open letter of unjust censure, accusing him of neglecting his

"I would save the Union," he said, frankly. "I would save it in the
shortest way under the Constitution. If there be those who would not
save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not
agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless
they could, at the same time, destroy slavery, I do not agree with them.
My paramount object 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 believe what I am doing hurts
the cause, and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more will help
the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I
shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views."

Contemplating the events in the history of emancipation in a perspective
of forty years, it is difficult to say whether we admire more the skill
with which President Lincoln led public sentiment along with him or the
reticence and dignity with which he restrained his own desire to yield
to the influence of the good people of the North and protect himself
from the clamor of his critics. His letter to Mr. Greeley was not an
argument in a controversy, nor an apology for or defence of his policy;
but he intended it to be a warning to prepare the slave-holders of the
border States and the South for an event which only he and his Cabinet
knew was about to happen, and, at the same time, to divert the attention
of the Union people of the North until a favorable opportunity arrived
for proclaiming freedom.

Mr. Greeley was not satisfied with the assurances contained in the
letter, and continued to attack the President in a persistent manner.
He was invited to come to Washington and "fight it out in private," but
sent his managing editor instead, who spent an interesting evening and
had an animated argument with the President; but the latter could not
trust him with the momentous secret, and was compelled to wait until
a Union victory offered a favorable opportunity to take the step he
contemplated. As he told the Chicago pastors, he had not decided against
a proclamation of liberty for the slaves, but held the matter under
advisement. "And I can assure you," he added, "that the subject is on my
mind by day and by night; more than any other. Whatever shall appear to
be God's will I will do."

Accordingly, on September 22, 1862, after the battle of Antietam, he
called his Cabinet together and announced his intention to issue a
proclamation of emancipation. "I have gotten you together to hear what
I have written down," he said. "I do not want your advice about the
main matter, because I have determined that myself. This I say without
intending anything but respect for all of you. I alone must bear the
responsibility for taking the course which I feel I ought to take."

The preliminary proclamation was issued, and in his annual message to
Congress on December 1, 1862, Lincoln recommended the passage of a joint
resolution proposing a constitutional amendment providing compensation
for every State which would abolish slavery before the year 1900,
another guaranteeing freedom to all slaves that had been released by
the chances of war, and a third authorizing Congress to provide a plan
of colonization for them. His idea was to send them either to Africa,
to the West Indies, or to Central America, and he encouraged several
extensive plans of colonization, which, however, were not carried into
practical operation. In this connection it is interesting to recall
the reminiscences of General Butler, who says that shortly before the
assassination the President sent for him and said,--

"'General Butler, I am troubled about the negroes. We are soon to have
peace. We have got some one hundred and odd thousand negroes who have
been trained to arms. When peace shall come I fear lest these colored
men shall organize themselves in the South, especially in the States
where the negroes are in preponderance in numbers, into guerilla
parties, and we shall have down there a warfare between the whites and
the negroes. In the course of the reconstruction of the government it
will become a question of how the negro is to be disposed of. Would
it not be possible to export them to some place, say Liberia or South
America, and organize them into communities to support themselves?'

"General Butler replied, 'We have large quantities of clothing to clothe
them, and arms and everything necessary for them, even to spades and
shovels, mules, and wagons. Our war has shown that an army organization
is the very best for digging up the soil and making intrenchments.
Witness the very many miles of intrenchments that our soldiers have dug
out. I know of a concession of the United States of Colombia for a tract
of thirty miles wide across the Isthmus of Panama for opening a ship
canal. The enlistments of the negroes have all of them from two or three
years to run. Why not send them all down there to dig the canal? They
will withstand the climate, and the work can be done with less cost to
the United States in that way than in any other. If you choose, I will
take command of the expedition. We will take our arms with us, and I
need not suggest to you that we will need nobody sent down to guard us
from the interference of any nation. We will proceed to cultivate the
land and supply ourselves with all the fresh food that can be raised in
the tropics, which will be all that will be needed, and your stores of
provisions and supplies of clothing will furnish all the rest. Shall I
work out the details of such an expedition for you, Mr. President?'

"He reflected for some time, and then said, 'There is meat in that
suggestion, General Butler; there is meat in that suggestion. Go and
talk to Seward and see what foreign complications there will be about

"But that evening Secretary Seward, in his drive before dinner, was
thrown from his carriage and severely injured, his jaw being broken, and
he was confined to his bed until the assassination of Lincoln and the
attempted murder of himself by one of the confederates of Booth, so that
the subject could never be again mentioned to Mr. Lincoln."

The final proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863. On the afternoon
of December 31, after the Cabinet meeting was over Lincoln rewrote the
document with great care, embodying in it several suggestions which
had been made by his Cabinet, but rigidly adhering to the spirit of
the original. In his judgment, the time had now come for adopting this
extreme measure, and "upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of
justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke
the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty

The morning of New Year's day was occupied by the official reception,
and the President was kept busy until about three o'clock in the
afternoon, when he went to the Executive Chamber, took the manuscript
from a drawer in his desk, wrote his name, and closed a controversy that
had raged for half a century. He carefully laid away the pen he had used
for Mr. Sumner, who had promised to obtain it for George Livermore, of
Cambridge, Massachusetts, an old abolitionist and the author of a work
on slavery which had greatly interested Lincoln. It was a steel pen with
an ordinary wooden handle, such as is used by school-children and can
be bought for a penny at any stationery store. The end of the holder
showed the marks of Lincoln's teeth, for he had a habit of putting his
pen-holder into his mouth whenever he was puzzled in composition.

Lincoln's own commentary and explanation of the step which led to this
edict of freedom was written little more than a year later, to a friend,
and should be carefully studied before forming a judgment upon the
reasons for and the consequences of that act:

"I am naturally antislavery," he said. "If slavery is not wrong, nothing
is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think and feel, and
yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an
unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling.
It was in the oath I took that I would, to the best of my ability,
preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I
could not take the office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view
that I might take an oath to get power, and break the oath in using
the power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil administration
this oath even forbade me to practically indulge my primary abstract
judgment on the moral question of slavery. I had publicly declared this
many times, and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have done
no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling
on slavery. I did understand, however, that my oath to preserve the
Constitution to the best of my ability imposed upon me the duty of
preserving, by every indispensable means, that government, that nation,
of which that Constitution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose
the nation and yet preserve the Constitution? By general law, life and
limb must be protected, yet often a limb must be amputated to save a
life; but a life is never wisely given to save a limb. I felt that
measures otherwise unconstitutional might become lawful by becoming
indispensable to the preservation of the Constitution, through the
preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and
now avow it. I could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I had
even tried to preserve the Constitution if, to save slavery or any
minor matter, I should permit the wreck of government, country, and
Constitution all together. When, early in the war, General Frémont
attempted military emancipation, I forbade it, because I did not then
think it an indispensable necessity. When, a little later, General
Cameron, then Secretary of War, suggested the arming of the blacks, I
objected, because I did not yet think it an indispensable necessity.
When, still later, General Hunter attempted military emancipation,
I again forbade it, because I did not yet think the indispensable
necessity had come. When in March and May and July, 1862, I made earnest
and successive appeals to the border States to favor compensated
emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for military
emancipation and arming the blacks would come unless averted by that
measure. They declined the proposition, and I was, in my best judgment,
driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it
the Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the colored element. I
chose the latter."

Lincoln did not live to witness the consummation or the consequences of
the edict. The preliminary resolution for a constitutional amendment was
not secured until after a long struggle in Congress and against the most
determined opposition. Were it not for Lincoln's political skill and
tact, it might never have been adopted. The work of ratification by the
loyal States was not completed until December, 1865, when Mr. Seward,
still Secretary of State, issued a proclamation announcing that the
thirteenth amendment had been ratified by twenty-seven of the thirty-six
States then composing the Union, and that slavery and involuntary
servitude were from that time and forever impossible within the limits
of the United States.

Some one has arranged the Emancipation Proclamation so that its words
form an accurate profile of Abraham Lincoln's face. The picture is
perfect and not a letter of the document is wanting.

Lincoln's ideas concerning the enfranchisement of the negroes were
expressed in a letter to Governor Hahn congratulating him upon having
his name fixed in history as the first free Governor of the State of
Louisiana, and saying, "Now, you are about to have a convention which,
among other things, will probably define the elective franchise.
I barely suggest for your private consideration whether some of
the colored people may not be let in,--as, for instance, the very
intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our
ranks. They would probably help, in some trying time to come, to keep
the jewel of liberty safe within the family of freedom. But this is only
a suggestion--not to the public, but to you alone."


By special permission of John M. Crampton, Esq., New Haven, Connecticut]

On April 11, 1865, he made his last speech. It was delivered from
the portico of the White House in response to an invitation from the
managers of a jubilee celebration over the surrender of Lee's army.
Twice before was he called out by serenading parties, and on both
occasions declined to give more than a few informal expressions of
congratulation and gratitude; but, being pressed by the committee, he
consented to deliver a formal address, and with great care prepared a
manuscript upon the reconstruction problem. It was undoubtedly intended
as a "feeler" to test public sentiment in the North, and that portion of
it which relates to negro suffrage is as follows:

"We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their
proper relations to the Union, and that the sole object of the
government, civil and military, in regard to those States, is to again
get them into their proper practical relation. I believe it is not
only possible, but in fact easier to do this without deciding, or even
considering, whether those States have ever been out of the Union,
than with it. Finding themselves safely at home, it would be utterly
immaterial whether they had ever been abroad. Let us join in doing the
acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations between those
States and the Union, and each forever after innocently indulge his own
opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the States from without
the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, they never having been
out of it.

"It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is
not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now
conferred on the very intelligent and those who have served our cause as
soldiers. Still, the question is not whether the Louisiana government,
as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is, Will it
be wiser to take it as it is, and help to improve it, or to reject and
disperse it?

"Some twelve thousand voters in the heretofore slave State of Louisiana
have sworn allegiance to the Union, assumed to be the rightful political
power of the State, held elections, organized a State government,
adopted a free State Constitution, giving the benefit of public schools
equally to black and white, and empowering the Legislature to confer the
elective franchise upon the colored man. The Legislature has already
voted to ratify the constitutional amendment passed by Congress,
abolishing slavery throughout the nation. These twelve thousand persons
are thus fully committed to the Union and to perpetual freedom in the
States--committed to the very things, and nearly all the things the
nation wants--and they ask the nation's recognition and its assistance
to make good the committal.... We encourage the hearts and nerve the
arms of twelve thousand to adhere to their work, and argue for it, and
proselyte for it, fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it
to a complete success. The colored man, too, seeing all united for him,
is inspired with vigilance, and energy, and daring to the same end.
Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not obtain it
sooner by saving the already advanced steps towards it than by running
backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only
as what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the
fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it."

We have the testimony of members of the Cabinet that the question of
suffrage was several times discussed, and that Lincoln and Mr. Chase
differed as to constitutional authority and limitations in that matter.
Mr. Chase held that Congress had the right and power to enact such laws
for the government of the people of the States lately in rebellion as
might be deemed expedient to the public safety, including the bestowal
of suffrage upon the negroes; but Lincoln held that the latter right
rested exclusively with the States. In his amnesty proclamation of
December 8, 1863, he said that any provision by which the States shall
provide for the education and for the welfare of "the laboring landless
and homeless class will not be objected to by the national Executive;"
and Mr. Usher, his Secretary of the Interior, says, "From all that
could be gathered by those who observed his conduct in those times, it
seemed his hope that the people in the insurgent States, upon exercising
authority under the Constitution and laws of the United States, would
find it necessary to make suitable provision, not only for the education
of the freedmen, but also for their acquisition of property and security
in its possession, and to secure that would find it necessary and
expedient to bestow suffrage upon them, in some degree at least."

Mr. Hugh McCulloch, who succeeded Mr. Chase as Secretary of the
Treasury, says, "There is nothing in his record to indicate that he
would have favored the immediate and full enfranchisement of those who,
having been always in servitude, were unfit for an intelligent and
independent use of the ballot. In the plan for the rehabilitation of
the South which he and his Cabinet had partially agreed upon, and which
Mr. Johnson and the same Cabinet endeavored to perfect and carry out,
no provision was made for negro suffrage. This question was purposely
left open for further consideration and for Congressional action, under
such amendments of the Constitution as the changed condition of the
country might render necessary. From some of his incidental expressions,
and from his well-known opinions upon the subject of suffrage and the
States' right to regulate it, my opinion is that he would have been
disposed to let that question remain as it was before the war; with,
however, such amendments of the Constitution as would have prevented
any but those who were permitted to vote in Federal elections from
being included in the enumeration for representatives in Congress, thus
inducing the recent Slave States, for the purpose of increasing their
Congressional influence and power, to give the ballot to black men as
well as white."



That rare gift which in the every-day affairs of life is called tact and
in statecraft is known as diplomacy was possessed by Abraham Lincoln
to a degree that was remarkable for a man of his meagre education
and limited experience. Before his nomination to the Presidency his
fame and activity had been almost exclusively provincial, and in a
province which had not yet grown out of the formative period; but he
was a profound student of human nature, and possessed a quality called
sagacity, which is the nearest approach to wisdom and is a gift of
nature. This knowledge and quality were developed during his political
life. A successful politician must be a diplomatist and a statesman. The
English language lacks terms to describe men of Lincoln's attainments.
The French, Spaniards, and Germans have definitions for different grades
of politicians, while the English are limited to that single word,
and apply it to every person who participates in political affairs,
from a ward-worker in the slums of the cities to an occupant of the
Executive chair of the nation. William McKinley, like Abraham Lincoln,
was a consummate politician and at the same time a statesman and a
diplomatist. The dictionary definition of the latter is "a man who has
dexterity or skill in managing negotiations of any kind;" and diplomacy,
by the same authority, is "artful management with a view of securing

According to this definition, Lincoln, as a diplomatist, was unsurpassed
in his generation either at home or abroad, as the history of the
foreign relations of our government during his administration will show.
He guided the foreign policy of the United States from 1861 to 1865
as closely as he directed its military campaigns until 1864, when he
yielded the responsibility to General Grant; and, although the public
gave the credit to Seward, the members of the Cabinet, the foreign
committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and others
intimately associated with that branch of the administration recognized
his genius in all the larger attributes of diplomacy. The untrained
lawyer from the prairies without hesitation assumed the responsibility
of conducting the foreign policy of the government in the most critical
period of its existence, and revised the diplomatic correspondence of
his Secretary of State, who had the reputation of being one of the most
subtle and far-sighted statesmen of his age. But the developments showed
that Lincoln alone had a complete grasp of a situation unprecedented in
our history.

He was a diplomatist by nature, and developed the talent early. When
a boy, he was selected as umpire at wrestling-matches, cock-fights,
horse- and foot-races, and other rude sports of the neighborhood because
his associates had confidence in his judgment and honesty. Because he
had tact, in addition to those qualities, he was the peacemaker and
court of appeals in quarrels; the referee in disputes; the arbiter in
controversies concerning literature, theology, woodcraft, and morals.
His decisions were rarely, if ever, questioned. He had a rule for
evading difficulties which was expressed in a homely remark to Mr.
Seward, who jokingly remarked at a Cabinet meeting one day,--

"Mr. President, I hear that you turned out for a colored woman on a
muddy crossing the other day."

"I don't remember," answered Lincoln, musingly; "but I think it very
likely, for I have always made it a rule that if people won't turn out
for me I will for them. If I didn't there would be a collision."

And he always avoided collisions. It was not because he lacked courage
or confidence. Obstinacy is often mistaken for courage, and, as one
of Lincoln's advisers remarked, "Political graveyards are filled with
buried ambitions and crushed hopes because of that mistake, which Mr.
Lincoln never made." He never allowed an antagonist to fathom his
thoughts or to see the line along which he was working. He gave way in
matters of small importance to secure a firmer position to fight a more
important battle. He overcame obstacles and escaped entanglements by
the exercise of this faculty called diplomacy, without surrendering a
principle or making an important concession.

General Fry, who was Provost-Marshal of the War Department and received
daily instructions from the President in regard to the draft for troops,
which was one of the most embarrassing and perplexing questions that
arose during the war, illustrates this peculiar trait by an anecdote. He

"Upon one occasion the Governor of a State came to my office bristling
with complaints in relation to the number of troops required from his
State, the details for drafting the men, and the plan of compulsory
service in general. I found it impossible to satisfy his demands, and
accompanied him to the Secretary of War's office, whence, after a stormy
interview with Stanton, he went alone to press his ultimatum upon
the highest authority. After I had waited anxiously for some hours,
expecting important orders or decisions from the President, or at least
a summons to the White House for explanation, the Governor returned, and
said, with a pleasant smile, that he was going home by the next train,
and merely dropped in _en route_ to say good-by. Neither the business he
came upon nor his interview with the President was alluded to.

"As soon as I could see Lincoln, I said, 'Mr. President, I am very
anxious to learn how you disposed of Governor ----. He went to your
office from the War Department in a towering rage. I suppose you found
it necessary to make large concessions to him, as he returned from you
entirely satisfied.'

"'Oh, no,' he replied, 'I did not concede anything. You know how that
Illinois farmer managed the big log that lay in the middle of his field?
To the inquiries of his neighbors, one Sunday, he announced that he had
got rid of the big log. "Got rid of it!" said they, "how did you do
it? It was too big to haul out, too knotty to split, and too wet and
soggy to burn; what did you do?" "Well, now, boys," replied the farmer,
"if you won't divulge the secret, I'll tell you how I got rid of it.
_I ploughed around it._" Now,' said Lincoln, 'don't tell anybody, but
that's the way I got rid of Governor ----. _I ploughed around him_, but
it took me three mortal hours to do it, and I was afraid every moment
he'd see what I was at.'"

Those who were associated with Lincoln noticed the rapid development of
his diplomatic talent. In meeting emergencies he constantly surprised
them by the manifestation of a capacity to grapple with hidden and
unknown difficulties that could have been possessed only by so strong
and deep a nature. His secretaries testify that he could receive any
kind of tidings without emotion or variation in face and manner.
"He never seemed to hear anything with reference to itself," one of
them described it, "but solely with a quick forward grasping for
the consequences; for what must be done next. The announcement of a
defeat or disaster did not bring to him the blow only, but rather the
consideration of a counter-stroke. With a calm, sublime reliance upon
God and the everlasting principles of right, he was able to conduct
the nation through the most tremendous civil war ever waged and never
committed a serious mistake."

Lincoln was pre-eminently a Democrat because he believed in a government
of the people by the people for the people. His early training, his
contact with "the plain people," as he loved to call them, his knowledge
of their prejudices and preferences, their habits of thought and methods
of judgment, enabled him to judge accurately of public opinion, and his
deep sympathy with them gave him confidence that whatever met their
approval was right and just. That explains his loyal obedience to the
will of the majority, his refusal to adopt radical measures, and his
strength of purpose when he believed that his plans would be approved
by them. His critics asserted that his procrastination with McClellan,
his postponement of the emancipation of the slaves, and his apparent
reluctance to act upon measures which were considered necessary to the
salvation of the country were signs of weakness and cowardice; but no
man ever showed greater courage when he felt that he was right.

When Lincoln came to Washington he had no experience in diplomacy or
statesmanship; as an attorney, he had dealt only with local and State
statutes; as a legislator, his experience was limited to provincial
affairs; his only knowledge of the operations of the general government
was acquired during the two years he was in Congress and from books that
he read. He had never argued a case before the Supreme Court, he had
never studied international law, he knew nothing of the organization
of armies, and he was unfamiliar with the relations between the Chief
Executive and his Cabinet; but we have seen in Chapter V. how promptly,
firmly, and conclusively, and at the same time with what tact and
diplomacy, he rebuked Seward's suggestion that he should surrender the
prerogatives of his office to the Secretary of State, how positive yet
how gentle was his treatment of Frémont, and how thorough his knowledge
of the laws of nations is disclosed by his correspondence concerning
the movement of troops through Maryland and Virginia, regarding the
suspension of the writ of _habeas corpus_, the arrest of Vallandigham,
and especially in connection with the Emancipation Proclamation.

President Lincoln made it a rule never to deny or explain any charge
against himself, nor to reply to an attack, except when the fortunes of
his country seemed to be involved; and when he did make a reply it was
always complete and satisfactory.

Almost the very moment that he crossed the threshold of the White House
Lincoln was confronted with the gravest diplomatic problem of his
experience, and its solution required not only knowledge of precedent
but skill in argument. The claim of the Confederacy to be recognized
as a nation by the powers of Europe had practically been waived by
President Buchanan when he admitted that the Federal government had
no authority to keep a State in the Union if it desired to secede.
This admission had been confirmed by the apparent acquiescence in the
withdrawal of South Carolina and other States; by the organization of
the Confederacy at Montgomery without interference or protest; by the
failure to reinforce Fort Sumter; and by Buchanan's practical abdication
of executive power when, in his message of January 8, 1861, he threw the
entire responsibility of the situation upon Congress.

All through these rapid and radical changes the foreign powers received
no official explanation or information from the Department of State at
Washington, and were left to draw their own inferences from the news
which appeared in the public press, until February 28, when Jeremiah S.
Black, for a few weeks Secretary of State, issued a circular instructing
our representatives at foreign capitals that the government of the
United States had not relinquished its constitutional jurisdiction
anywhere within its territory and did not intend to do so. In the same
circular he gave instructions that a recognition of the Confederacy
must not be allowed. Upon assuming the duties of Secretary of State,
Mr. Seward hastily confirmed these instructions and expressed the
confidence of the President in the speedy suppression of the Rebellion
and the restoration of the unity and harmony of the nation. From France
and England came non-committal and unsatisfactory replies, and before
Mr. Adams, who had been appointed minister to England, could arrive
in London, an unfriendly ministry issued a proclamation of neutrality
practically recognizing the Confederate States as an independent
government and conceding it the privileges of a belligerent power.
Thus, before it had a single ship afloat, its fleets were tendered the
hospitality of the British ports on terms of equality with the fleets
of the United States. France at once imitated this precipitate action,
which was prompted by the desire of the British manufacturers to secure
free trade and cheap cotton. The Emperor of the French was actuated
by confidence that a division of the American Union would aid in the
advancement of his plans to erect an empire in Mexico.

Exasperated by the injustice of this action, Mr. Seward wrote Mr. Adams
a despatch which would have imperilled our relations with Great Britain
had it been delivered in its original form. Fortunately, the President
had enjoined the Secretary of State not to send anything of importance
without first submitting it to him; hence Lincoln was able to modify
what Mr. Seward's inflammable temper had suggested and at the same
time add to the force and the dignity of the despatch. A comparison of
the text of the original with the final copy as sent to the American
legation at London demonstrates the superiority of Lincoln's judgment
as well as his mastery of the language of diplomacy. It is remarkable
that a mind untrained to consider the consequences of international
discourtesy and a hand unaccustomed to frame the phrases of diplomacy
should have been so apt and so skilful in removing the sting from the
indignant paragraphs of an experienced statesman without diminishing
their tone, or force, or dignity.

If the letter, as it came from the hands of Mr. Seward, had been
delivered at the British Foreign Office according to instructions, Mr.
Adams would have burned his bridges behind him. He would have placed
himself in the attitude of breaking off intercourse, and thus made it
impossible for him to use any further influence or even to ascertain the
disposition and intention of the British government. The only thing left
for him would have been to close the legation and return to the United
States. Lincoln's modifications left him free to manage a delicate
situation as circumstances and his own judgment indicated. He was not
only left within the range of personal and diplomatic courtesy, but
by Lincoln's clever phrasing the burden of proof was thrown upon the
British government.

This skilful use of terms until that time unfamiliar to Lincoln has
always excited the admiration of philologists and diplomatists because
of the nice sense he displayed of the shades of meaning and the effect
of adding emphasis and improving the courtesy of expression at the same
time. The comprehensive knowledge of the situation and the appreciation
of the results which might follow seem almost supernatural in a man who
had been only three months in office, was entirely without experience
in diplomacy, had never before prepared a diplomatic note, and whose
mind was perplexed about home affairs. The highest authorities have
pronounced it the work of a master, as showing a freedom of knowledge of
and insight into foreign affairs, a skill in shaping phrases, a delicate
sense of propriety, an appreciation of the methods of diplomatic
dealings, and a penetration which entitled the President to the highest
honors of statesmanship.

And thus was a misunderstanding and perhaps a war with England avoided
by a simple change in terms and phrases. We can only conjecture what
might have happened; but, had Seward's despatch been sent as originally
written, it would probably have resulted in the formal recognition and
the success of the Southern Confederacy.

During the first term of General Grant's administration, Mr. Fish,
then Secretary of State, brought the original manuscript to a Cabinet
meeting, and it excited so much interest that Mr. Boutwell proposed
to have twelve fac-similes made by the photographer of the Treasury
Department. Twelve copies were taken and the negative then destroyed.

It was not long before the government was again involved in a
complication with Great Britain owing to the zeal of Captain Charles
Wilkes, of the gunboat "San Jacinto," who overhauled the British mail
steamer "Trent" and took from the passenger cabin ex-Senators J. M.
Mason and John Slidell, who had been accredited by the Confederate
government as envoys to the European courts, and had managed to elude
the blockade and sail from Havana. The British government, people,
and press regarded the act as a violation of international law and an
outrage upon the British flag, and preparations for war were begun,
while Lord Lyons, the British minister at Washington, was instructed
to close his legation and return to England unless the prisoners were
released and a satisfactory apology offered within seven days.

If it had not been for the kindly sympathy of Queen Victoria, President
Lincoln would not have been allowed to apologize; but with her own hand
she modified the instructions to Lord Lyons and gave our government an
opportunity to withdraw from an untenable position. The situation was
exceedingly embarrassing and critical, because the action of Captain
Wilkes was not only applauded by the public, but it was officially
approved by the Secretary of the Navy, and the House of Representatives
unanimously passed a resolution commending him for his brave and
patriotic conduct.

While the President and his Cabinet no doubt admired Captain Wilkes
for the qualities he had displayed, they were placed in a serious
dilemma because of the energetic and peremptory demands of the British
government. The President took the matter into his own hands, and the
most experienced diplomatist or the most skilful lawyer could not have
prepared a clearer, stronger, more dignified, or courteous despatch
than he wrote for Mr. Seward's signature, suggesting that the matter be
submitted to friendly arbitration.

"The President is unwilling to believe," he wrote, "that Her Majesty's
government will press for a categorical answer upon what appears to
him to be only a partial record in the making up of which he has been
allowed no part. He is reluctant to volunteer his view of the case, with
no assurance that Her Majesty's government will consent to hear him;
yet this much he directs me to say, that this government has intended
no affront to the British flag or to the British nation; nor has it
intended to force into discussion an embarrassing question; all of
which is evident by the fact hereby asserted, that the act complained
of was done by the officer without orders from, or expectation of, the
government. But, being done, it was no longer left to us to consider
whether we might not, to avoid a controversy, waive an unimportant
though a strict right; because we, too, as well as Great Britain, have
a people justly jealous of their rights, and in whose presence our
government could undo the act complained of only upon a fair showing
that it was wrong, or at least very questionable. The United States
government and people are still willing to make reparation upon such

"Accordingly, I am instructed by the President to inquire whether
Her Majesty's government will hear the United States upon the matter
in question. The President desires, among other things, to bring
into view, and have considered, the existing rebellion in the United
States; the position Great Britain has assumed, including Her Majesty's
proclamation in relation thereto; the relation the persons whose seizure
is the subject of complaint bore to the United States, and the object
of their voyage at the time they were seized; the knowledge which the
master of the 'Trent' had of their relation to the United States, and of
the object of their voyage, at the time he received them on board for
the voyage; the place of the seizure; and the precedents and respective
positions assumed in analogous cases between Great Britain and the
United States.

"Upon a submission containing the foregoing facts, with those set forth
in the before-mentioned despatch to your lordship, together with all
other facts which either party may deem material, I am instructed to say
the government of the United States will, if agreed to by Her Majesty's
government, go to such friendly arbitration as is usual among nations,
and will abide the award."

This despatch was not sent; nor was it ever submitted to the Cabinet.
Before the opportunity arrived the President was convinced of the danger
of temporizing. Eight thousand troops were despatched from London to
Canada, a British fleet was ordered to American waters, and the export
of arms and ammunition from Great Britain was forbidden. The President's
cool judgment and common sense also taught him that the position of our
government was untenable, and, with his keen perceptions as a lawyer,
he saw how the United States could honorably withdraw and at the same
time use the incident to its own advantage and get the better of the

"We must stick to American principles concerning the rights of
neutrals," he said. "We fought Great Britain for insisting by theory and
practice on the right to do precisely what Captain Wilkes has done.
If Great Britain shall now protest against the act and demand their
release, we must give them up and apologize for the act as a violation
of our own doctrines, and thus forever bind her over to keep the peace
in relation to neutrals, and so acknowledge that she has been wrong for
sixty years."

Mr. Seward prepared a long and remarkable presentation of the case of
the United States which is considered one of the ablest of his many
state papers. He admitted that Captain Wilkes had done wrong and had
exceeded his instructions, but asserted that "this government has
neither meditated, nor practised, nor approved any deliberate wrong
in the transaction to which they have called its attention, and, on
the contrary, that what has happened has been simply an inadvertency,
consisting in the departure by the naval officer, free from any wrongful
motive, from a rule uncertainly established, and probably by the
several parties concerned either imperfectly understood or entirely
unknown. For this error the British government has a right to expect
the same reparation that we, as an independent state, should expect
from Great Britain or any other friendly nation in a similar case....
If I decide this case in favor of my own government, I must disavow
its most cherished principles, and reverse and forever abandon its
essential policy. The country cannot afford the sacrifice. If I maintain
those principles and adhere to that policy, I must surrender the case
itself.... The four persons in question are now held in military custody
at Fort Warren, in the State of Massachusetts. They will be cheerfully

Thus, through Lincoln's penetration and judgment, a great international
peril was not only averted, but Great Britain was forced to relinquish
her own contentions and adopt the American doctrine respecting this
class of neutral rights.

There were frequent matters of controversy between the British Foreign
Office and the Department of State at Washington during the four years
of war because of the systematic violation of the neutrality laws by
English subjects, and they were aggravated by the unconcealed sympathy
of the British people with the Confederate States. Our government was
ably represented in London by Charles Francis Adams, in whom Lincoln had
great confidence, and his voluminous instructions from time to time,
although prepared by Secretary Seward, were always carefully revised by
the President. Altogether, the diplomatic correspondence during that
period, both in matters of controversy and particularly concerning
offers of mediation in our affairs made by the European powers, shows a
diplomatic penetration and skill which excite the admiration of students.

Among other perplexing questions with which he was compelled to deal
was the invasion of Mexico and the attempt to establish an empire at
the city of the Montezumas. The President took the most positive and
determined ground in support of the Monroe doctrine--more advanced
than had been attempted at that time. He expressed an unqualified
disapproval of the French invasion; and, although he was not in a
position to intervene with force, lost no opportunity of making known
to the other powers of Europe, and through our minister in Paris to
the Emperor of France himself, that the movement to erect a monarchy
on American soil was repugnant to the United States. To strengthen his
position he suggested that Governor Dennison, who was to be chairman
of the Baltimore Convention in 1864, give a strong endorsement of the
Monroe doctrine in his opening speech, and that the Convention adopt
a resolution declaring that the people of the United States would not
permit the overthrow of a republican government or the establishment of
a monarchy upon the Western continent.

Early in 1865 Lincoln and Secretary Seward received three peace
commissioners from the Confederacy--Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell,--who
wanted the President to recognize the Southern Confederacy as a foreign
government. Mr. Hunter urged this very strongly, declaring that the
recognition of Jefferson Davis's official authority to make a treaty
was an indispensable step to peace, and referred to the correspondence
between King Charles I. and his Parliament as a trustworthy precedent.
When Mr. Hunter made this point, Lincoln looked up quickly and

"Upon questions of history I must refer you to Mr. Seward, for he is
posted on such things and I do not profess to be; but it is my distinct
recollection that, as a result of that correspondence, Charles lost his

One of the most remarkable examples of Lincoln's tact and diplomacy
is found in his treatment of a Cabinet crisis in December, 1862, when
the danger of a permanent division of the Republican party into two
hostile factions seemed imminent and unavoidable. As the reader has
already learned from this narrative, the Cabinet was never harmonious
or united. It was divided by personal jealousies and rivalries as
well as by differences concerning matters of policy from the day
of the inauguration. Gradually Mr. Seward became the leader of the
conservative and Mr. Chase of the radical element of the Republican
party, and while both conducted the business of their departments with
patriotism, ability, and skill, they were not only mutually hostile,
but suspected each other's motives. From a very early day Mr. Chase
became an outspoken candidate for the Presidential nomination against
Lincoln, and his criticism, as we have learned in Chapter V., included
his fellow-members of the Cabinet. Mr. Seward, on the other hand, was
loyal to the President, but had given great offence to the radical
element of his party by some of his published despatches and private
utterances, particularly one diplomatic note in which he had included
the antislavery men with the secessionists as responsible for bringing
on the war. The dissatisfaction was aggravated by other offences to such
a degree that the Republicans of the Senate called a caucus to consider
the matter and passed a resolution demanding the dismissal of Mr. Seward
from the Cabinet. The cooler members of the Senate succeeded in having
this action reconsidered and a substitute resolution adopted requesting
a reconstruction of the official family. The meaning and intention
of the caucus, however, could not be concealed by this indefinite
resolution, and as soon as Mr. Seward learned of the proceeding, he
and his son, who was Assistant Secretary of State, tendered their
resignations. The President tucked them into a pigeonhole of his desk
without comment.

The following morning a caucus committee waited upon the President
and presented the resolution, each Senator, in turn, submitting his
personal views as to the unfitness of the Secretary of State to remain
in the administration, chiefly because of his lack of interest in
antislavery measures under consideration which they considered essential
to a successful prosecution of the war. Lincoln listened to them with
respectful attention, asked an opportunity for reflection, and invited
them to return to the White House in the evening for his reply. He
called the Cabinet, except Mr. Seward, together at the same hour, and
when the committee and the ministers met each was greatly surprised to
see the others.


From a photograph by Brady]

The President remarked that he thought it best to fight it out and have
it over, and was determined that every point of difference between them
should be exposed and explained before his guests separated. He read the
resolution of the caucus and then called upon the Senators to explain
themselves, which they did with earnestness. The Cabinet replied with
equal candor,--all except Secretary Chase, who found himself in a
very embarrassing position, because he had been chiefly instrumental
in creating the dissatisfaction by misrepresenting the opinions of
Seward and the rest of his colleagues to his friends in the Senate. He
could not deny it, for the witnesses were present; nor could he defend
himself for doing so. He could only protest against being entrapped in a
mortifying predicament and express his regret that he had attended the
meeting. Without malice, but with the hope of correcting the bad habits
of his Secretary of the Treasury, the President had made sure that he
should be present.

When everybody had said all that he had to say, Lincoln astonished them
by announcing that he intended to take a vote, and he put the question
directly whether, after the explanations which had been heard, Mr.
Seward should be excused. Senators Grimes, Trumbull, Sumner, and Pomeroy
voted "Yes," Senator Harris "No," and Senators Collamer, Fessenden, and
Howard declined to vote. Mr. Wade, the other member of the committee,
was absent.

The President decided that the vote had been in favor of Mr. Seward.
While the Senators realized that the President had outwitted them, they,
nevertheless, left the White House satisfied that Seward's position
was untenable, and that after this incident he would be compelled
voluntarily to retire from the Cabinet. As the committee was leaving
the President's room, Senator Trumbull, with great vehemence, accused
Mr. Chase of double-dealing, and the latter, having no defence to the
charge, tendered his resignation the following morning, and was very
much surprised at the alacrity with which the President received it.

When the Cabinet retired, Lincoln took the resignation of Mr. Seward
from his desk and, holding it up beside that of Mr. Chase, remarked to a
personal friend to whom he had briefly sketched the situation,--

"Now I can ride. I have got a pumpkin in each end of my bag."

A few moments after he sat down at his desk, with his own hand made two
copies of the following note, and sent one to Mr. Seward and the other
to Mr. Chase by messenger:

"You have respectively tendered me your resignation as Secretary of
State and Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. I am apprized
of the circumstances which render this course personally desirable to
each of you; but, after the most anxious consideration, my deliberate
judgment is that the public interest does not admit of it. I therefore
have to request that you will resume the duties of your departments

Mr. Seward at once recognized the situation and wrote the President,
saying, "I have cheerfully resumed the functions of this department in
obedience to your command," and sent a copy of the note to the Secretary
of the Treasury.

Mr. Chase, however, was not so frank. He realized that he had made a
serious mistake, and by his duplicity had lost the confidence of the
Republican leaders of the Senate as well as that of his colleagues
in the Cabinet. He suspected that Mr. Seward had somehow obtained an
advantage of him, and he was not sure which way he had better turn;
so he asked time for reflection, and finally wrote a long letter to
the President explaining his situation and his views, and concluded by
saying that he thought both Mr. Seward and himself had better retire. He
did not send the letter at once, but held it until the following day;
and when he learned that Seward's resignation was withdrawn, enclosed it
in another note stating that, while he had not changed his views, he was
ready to resume his post or to retire from it if, in the judgment of the
President, the success of the administration might be promoted thereby.

This was the end of the episode. The President had cleared up the
misunderstanding between the Cabinet and the Senate and the members of
his own official family by a novel expedient which is often adopted to
reconcile quarrels between children, but was altogether new in diplomacy
and statesmanship. Both sides to the controversy were conscious that
they had placed themselves in the wrong, and, even under their chagrin,
must have recognized the humor of the situation and the diplomatic skill
with which Lincoln had handled it. The President himself was very proud
of his triumph.

"I do not see how it could have been better," he said afterwards. "If I
had yielded to the storm and dismissed Seward, the thing would all have
slumped over one way, and we should have been left with a scanty handful
of supporters. When Chase gave in his resignation I saw that the game
was in my hands, and I put it through."

In this case and frequently throughout his administration the President
resorted to the old-fashioned and homely but sensible methods that were
commonly resorted to on the frontier to settle controversies between
neighbors when the courts were scattered and litigation was considered
disreputable. They were new in the administration of a government, but
were none the less effective.

Lincoln frequently showed that he could easily avoid a direct answer
and evade inquisitive visitors when he thought it was impolitic to make
known his opinions. One of the latter wanted to know his opinion of
Sheridan, who had just come from the West to take command of the cavalry
under Grant. Said Lincoln,--

"I will tell you just what kind of a chap he is. He is one of those
long-armed fellows with short legs that can scratch his shins without
having to stoop over to do so."

One day, when the vain boasting of a certain general was the subject of
discussion, Lincoln was "reminded" of a farmer out in Illinois who was
in the habit of bragging about everything he did and had and saw, and
particularly about his crops. While driving along the road during the
haying season, he noticed one of his neighbors hauling a load of hay
into his barn. He could not resist the opportunity, and commenced to
brag about the size of his hay crop, which, as usual, he asserted to be
larger and better than any ever before known in the county. After he had
finished he asked what kind of a crop his neighbor had put in.

"The biggest crop you ever see!" was the prompt reply. "I've got so much
hay I don't know what to do with it. I've piled up all I can out-doors
and am going to put the rest of it in the barn."

Robert Dale Owen, the spiritualist, once read the President a long
manuscript on an abstruse subject with which that rather erratic person
loved to deal. Lincoln listened patiently until the author asked for his
opinion, when he replied, with a yawn,--

"Well, for those who like that sort of thing, I should think it is just
about the sort of thing they would like."

While Lincoln was always very patient, he often adopted droll methods
for getting rid of bores. The late Justice Cartter of the Supreme Court
of the District of Columbia used to relate an incident of a Philadelphia
man who called at the White House so frequently and took up so much of
the President's time that the latter finally lost his patience. One day
when the gentleman was particularly verbose and persistent, and refused
to leave, although he knew that important delegations were waiting,
Lincoln arose, walked over to a wardrobe in the corner of the cabinet
chamber, and took a bottle from a shelf. Looking gravely at his visitor,
whose head was very bald, he remarked,--

"Did you ever try this stuff for your hair?"

"No, sir, I never did."

"Well," remarked Lincoln, "I advise you to try it, and I will give you
this bottle. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Keep it up.
They say it will make hair grow on a pumpkin. Now take it and come back
in eight or ten months and tell me how it works."

The astonished Philadelphian left the room instantly without a word,
carrying the bottle in his hand, and Judge Cartter, coming in with the
next delegation, found the President doubled up with laughter at the
success of his strategy. Before he could proceed to business the story
had to be told.

"His skill in parrying troublesome questions was wonderful," said Mr.
Chauncey M. Depew. "I was in Washington at a critical period of the
war, when the late John Ganson, of Buffalo, one of the ablest lawyers
in our State, and who, though elected as a Democrat, supported all Mr.
Lincoln's war measures, called on him for explanations. Mr. Ganson was
very bald, with a perfectly smooth face, and had a most direct and
aggressive way of stating his views or of demanding what he thought he
was entitled to. He said,--

"'Mr. Lincoln, I have supported all of your measures and think I am
entitled to your confidence. We are voting and acting in the dark in
Congress, and I demand to know--I think I have the right to ask and
to know--what is the present situation and what are the prospects and
conditions of the several campaigns and armies.'

"Mr. Lincoln looked at him quizzically for a moment, and then said,
'Ganson, how clean you shave!'

"Most men would have been offended, but Ganson was too broad and
intelligent a man not to see the point and retire at once, satisfied,
from the field."

Senator Fessenden came from the Capitol, one day, in a terrible rage
because Mr. Lincoln had made certain promises, in matters of patronage,
which he considered unjust to himself, and reproached and denounced the
President in intemperate language. Mr. Lincoln made no explanation or
reply, but listened calmly until the fury of the storm was spent, when,
in his droll way, he inquired,--

"You are an Episcopalian, aren't you, Fessenden?"

"Yes, sir. I belong to that church."

"I thought so. You Episcopalians all swear alike. Seward is an
Episcopalian; Stanton is a Presbyterian. You ought to hear him swear."
And he continued to describe the several varieties of swearing and the
nice distinctions between different kinds of profanity in the most
philosophical manner, until Fessenden's fury was extinguished and he
could discuss the reasons for the offensive appointment in a rational

A visitor once asked Lincoln how many men the rebels had in the field.

He replied, very seriously, "Twelve hundred thousand, according to the
best authority."

"Good heavens!"

"Yes, sir, twelve hundred thousand--no doubt of it. You see, all of our
generals, when they get whipped, say the enemy outnumbers them from
three or five to one, and I must believe them. We have four hundred
thousand men in the field, and three times four make twelve. Don't you
see it?"

When the Sherman expedition which captured Port Royal went out there was
a great curiosity to know where it had gone. A person with ungovernable
curiosity asked the President the destination.

"Will you keep it entirely secret?" asked the President.

"Oh, yes, upon my honor."

"Well," said the President, "I will tell you." Assuming an air of great
mystery, and drawing the man close to him, he kept him waiting the
revelation with great anxiety, and then said in a loud whisper, which
was heard all over the room, "The expedition has gone to--sea."

A gentleman asked Lincoln to give him a pass through the Federal lines
in order to visit Richmond. "I should be very happy to oblige you," said
the President, "if my passes were respected; but the fact is, within the
past two years I have given passes to Richmond to two hundred and fifty
thousand men and not one has got there yet."

A New York firm applied to Lincoln some years before he became President
for information as to the financial standing of one of his neighbors.
This was the answer:

    "Yours of the 10th received. First of all, he has a wife
    and baby; together they ought to be worth $500,000 to any man.
    Secondly, he has an office in which there is a table worth
    $1.50 and three chairs worth, say, $1. Last of all there is
    in one corner a large rat hole, which will bear looking into.

        "A. LINCOLN."

A certain Senator once called at the White House to persuade Lincoln
to issue an order to the Secretary of War to pay a constituent of his
a considerable sum of money for services which clearly he had not
rendered, the amount being claimed on the ground that he would have
rendered them if he had been permitted to do so. Lincoln heard the
statement of facts and the argument with his usual patience and rendered
his decision as follows:

"Years ago when imprisonment for debt was legal in some States a
poor fellow was sent to jail by his creditors and compelled to serve
out his debt at the rate of a dollar and a half per day. Knowing the
exact amount of the debt, he carefully calculated the time he would be
required to serve. When the sentence had expired he informed his jailer
of the fact, and asked to be released. The jailer insisted upon keeping
him four days longer. Upon making up his statement, however, he found
that the man was right, and that he had served four days longer than
his sentence required. The prisoner then demanded not only a receipt
in full of his debt, but also payment for four days' extra service,
amounting to six dollars, which he declared the county owed him.

"Now," said Lincoln, "I think your client has just about as good a claim
for the money as he had."

"I am very much of your opinion, Mr. President," said the Senator,
soberly, as he retired.

Mr. Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, says, "A spy whom we
employed to report to us the proceedings of the Confederate government
and its agents, and who passed continually between Richmond and St.
Catherines, reporting at the War Department upon the way, had come in
from Canada and had put into my hands an important despatch from Mr.
Clement C. Clay, Jr., addressed to Mr. Benjamin. Of course the seal
was broken and the paper read immediately. It showed unequivocally
that the Confederate agents in Canada were making use of that country
as a starting-point for warlike raids which were to be directed
against frontier towns like St. Albans in Vermont. Mr. Stanton thought
it important that this despatch should be retained as a ground of
reclamation to be addressed to the British government. It was on a
Sunday that it arrived, and he was confined to his house by a cold. At
his direction I went over to the President and made an appointment with
him to be at the Secretary's office after church. At the appointed time
he was there, and I read the despatch to them. Mr. Stanton stated the
reasons why it should be retained, and before deciding the question Mr.
Lincoln turned to me, saying,--

"'Well, Dana?'

"I observed to them that this was a very important channel of
communication, and that if we stopped such a despatch as this it was at
the risk of never obtaining any more information through that means.

"'Oh,' said the President, 'I think you can manage that. Capture the
messenger, take the despatch from him by force, put him in prison, and
then let him escape. If he has made Benjamin and Clay believe his lies
so far, he won't have any difficulty in telling them new ones that will
answer for this case.'

"This direction was obeyed. The paper was sealed up again and was
delivered to its bearer. General Augur, who commanded the District, was
directed to look for a Confederate messenger at such a place on the
road that evening. The man was arrested, brought to the War Department,
searched, the paper found upon him and identified, and he was committed
to the Old Capitol Prison. He made his escape about a week later, being
fired upon by the guard. A large reward for his capture was advertised
in various papers East and West, and when he reached St. Catherines with
his arm in a sling, wounded by a bullet which had passed through it, his
story was believed by Messrs. Clay and Jacob Thompson, or, at any rate,
if they had any doubts upon the subject, they were not strong enough to
prevent his carrying their messages afterward.

"The last time I saw Mr. Lincoln to speak with him," continued Mr. Dana,
"was in the afternoon of the day of his murder. The same Jacob Thompson
was the subject of our conversation. I had received a report from the
Provost-Marshal of Portland, Maine, saying that Jacob Thompson was to
be in that town that night for the purpose of taking the steamer for
Liverpool, and what orders had the Department to give? I carried the
telegram to Mr. Stanton. He said promptly, 'Arrest him;' but as I was
leaving his room he called me back, adding, 'You had better take it
over to the President.' It was now between four and five o'clock in the
afternoon and business at the White House was completed for the day. I
found Mr. Lincoln with his coat off, in a closet attached to his office,
washing his hands. 'Halloo, Dana,' said he, as I opened the door,
'what is it now?' 'Well, sir,' I said, 'here is the Provost-Marshal
of Portland, who reports that Jacob Thompson is to be in that town
to-night, and inquires what orders we have to give.' 'What does Stanton
say?' he asked.

'Arrest him,' I replied. 'Well,' he continued, drawling his words, 'I
rather guess not. When you have an elephant on hand, and he wants to run
away, better let him run.'"

When a friend brought to his attention the fact that Secretary Chase
was seeking the nomination for President, the President accepted the
announcement with the utmost good-humor, and said,--

"My half-brother was once ploughing corn on a Kentucky farm. I was
driving the horse and he holding the plough. The horse was lazy, but
on one occasion rushed across the field so fast that I, even with my
long legs, could hardly keep pace with him. On reaching the end of the
furrow, I found an enormous chin-fly fastened upon him, and knocked him
off. My brother asked me what I did that for. I told him I didn't want
the old horse bitten in that way. 'Why,' said he, 'that's what makes him
go.' If Mr. Chase has a Presidential chin-fly biting him, I'm not going
to knock him off, if it will only make his department go."

Coming into the President's room one day, Mr. Stanton said that he
had received a telegram from General Mitchell, in Alabama, asking
instructions. He did not quite understand the situation down there, but,
having full confidence in Mitchell's judgment, had answered, "All right;
go ahead."

"Now, Mr. President," he added, "if I have made an error, I shall have
to get you to countermand the order."

"Once at the cross-roads down in Kentucky, when I was a boy, a
particularly fine horse was to be sold," replied Lincoln. "They had
a small boy to ride him up and down. One man whispered to the boy as
he went by, 'Look here, boy, hain't that horse got splints?' The boy
replied, 'Mister, I don't know what splints is; but if it's good for him
he's got it, and if it ain't good for him he ain't got it.' Now," added
Lincoln, "I understand that if this is good for Mitchell it's all right,
but if it's not I have got to countermand it."

To a deputation who urged that his Cabinet should be reconstructed
after the retirement of Secretary Cameron, the President told this
story: "Gentlemen, when I was a young man I used to know very well one
Joe Wilson, who built himself a log cabin not far from where I lived.
Joe was very fond of eggs and chickens, and he took a very great deal
of pains in fitting up a poultry shed. Having at length got together a
choice lot of young fowls,--of which he was very proud,--he began to be
much annoyed by the depredations of those little black-and-white-spotted
animals which it is not necessary to name. One night Joe was awakened
by an unusual cackling and fluttering among his chickens. Getting up,
he crept out to see what was going on. It was a bright moonlight night,
and he soon caught sight of half a dozen of the little pests, which,
with their dam, were running in and out of the shadow of the shed. Very
wrathy, Joe put a double charge into his old musket and thought he would
'clean Out' the whole tribe at one shot. Somehow he only killed one, and
the balance scampered off across the field. In telling the story Joe
would always pause here and hold his nose. 'Why didn't you follow them
up and kill the rest?' inquired his neighbors. 'Blast it,' said Joe, 'it
was eleven weeks before I got over killin' one. If you want any more
skirmishing in that line you can do it yourselves!'"

On one occasion some of Lincoln's friends were talking of the diminutive
stature of Stephen A. Douglas, and an argument as to the proper length
of a man's legs. During the discussion Lincoln came in, and it was
agreed that the question should be referred to him for decision.

"Well," said he, reflectively, "I should think a man's legs ought to be
long enough to reach from his body to the ground."

A day or two before his inauguration a delegation of merchants and
bankers who had been sent to the Peace Congress called upon Lincoln to
remonstrate against the use of force to restrain the South, and to plead
for a conciliatory policy towards the slave-holders. Mr. William E.
Dodge declared that the whole world was anxiously awaiting the inaugural
address, and added, "It is for you, sir, to say whether the nation shall
be plunged into bankruptcy, and whether the grass shall grow in the
streets of our commercial cities."

"Then I say it shall not," Lincoln answered coolly, with a twinkle in
his eye. "If it depends upon me, the grass will not grow anywhere except
in the fields and meadows."

"Then you must yield to the just demands of the South," declared Mr.
Dodge." You must leave her to control her own institutions. You will
admit slave States into the Union on the same conditions as free States.
You will not go to war on account of slavery."

A sad but stern expression swept over Lincoln's face. "I do not know
that I understand your meaning, Mr. Dodge," he answered, without raising
his voice; "nor do I know what my acts or my opinions may be in the
future, beyond this. If I ever come to the great office of the President
of the United States, I shall take an oath. I shall swear that I will
faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States, and
that I will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend
the Constitution of the United States. That is a great and solemn duty.
With the support of the people and the assistance of the Almighty I
shall undertake to perform it. It is not the Constitution as I should
like to have it, but as it is, that is to be defended. The Constitution
will be preserved and defended until it is enforced and obeyed in every
part of every one of the United States. It must be so respected, obeyed,
and enforced and defended, let the grass grow where it may."

In 1862 the people of New York City feared bombardment by Confederate
cruisers, and public meetings were held to consider the gravity of
the situation. Finally a delegation of fifty gentlemen, representing
hundreds of millions of dollars, was selected to go to Washington and
persuade the President to detail a gunboat to protect their property.
David Davis, while on the Supreme Bench, went to the White House and
presented them to the President.

Mr. Lincoln heard them attentively, much impressed, apparently, by the
"hundreds of millions." When they had concluded, he said,--

"Gentlemen, I am, by the Constitution, Commander-in-Chief of the Army
and the Navy of the United States, and as a matter of law I can order
anything to be done that is practicable to be done. I am in command of
the gunboats and ships of war; but, as a matter of fact, I do not know
exactly where they are. I presume they are actively engaged, and it
therefore is impossible for me to furnish you a gunboat. The credit of
the government is at a very low ebb; greenbacks are not worth more than
forty or fifty cents on the dollar, and in this condition of things, if
I were worth half as much as you gentlemen are represented to be, and as
badly frightened as you seem to be, I would build a gunboat and give it
to the government."

Judge Davis said he never saw one hundred millions sink to such
insignificant proportions as it did when the delegation left the White



Abraham Lincoln has left us abundant testimony in words and works of
his code of morals and religious creed. He was a man of keen perception
of right and wrong, of acute conscience and deep religious sentiment,
although he was not "orthodox." He declined to join a church because
of conscientious scruples. He would not confess a faith that was not
in him. His reason forbade him to accept some of the doctrines taught
by the Baptist and Christian churches, to which his parents belonged,
and the Presbyterian denomination, of which his wife was a member.
Nevertheless, he was regular and reverential in his attendance upon
worship. Shortly after his marriage he rented a pew in the First
Presbyterian Church of Springfield, and occupied it with his wife and
children at the service each Sunday morning unless detained by illness.
In Washington he was an habitual attendant of the New York Avenue
Presbyterian Church, and his pastor, the Reverend Dr. Gurley, who
was also his intimate friend, tells us that he was "a true believer"
and "entirely without guile." One of Lincoln's mental traits was his
inability to accept or put aside a proposition until he understood it.
His conscience required him to see his way clearly before making a
start, and his honesty of soul would not allow him to make a pretence
that was not well founded. No consideration or argument would induce him
to abandon a line of conduct or accept a theory which his analytical
powers or sense of caution taught him to doubt.

From his mother he inherited a rigid honesty which was demanded by
public opinion in early days and was the safeguard of the frontier.
There were no locks upon the cabin doors nor upon the stables. A man
who committed a theft would not be tolerated in a community, and if
he took a horse or a cow or any article which was necessary for the
sustenance of a family he was outlawed, if he escaped with his life.
Merchants never thought of locking up their stores, and often left
them entirely unprotected for days at a time while they went to the
nearest source of supply to replenish their stock or were absent for
other reasons. If their patrons found no one to serve them, they helped
themselves, and, as prices varied little from year to year, they were
able to judge for themselves of the value of the goods, and reported the
purchase and paid the bill the next time they found the merchant at home.

When Abraham Lincoln was clerking for Denton Offutt, he walked three
miles one evening after the store was closed to return a sixpence which
had been overpaid. On another occasion he gave four ounces for half a
pound of tea and delivered the difference before he slept. For this and
other acts of the same sort he became known as "Honest Old Abe," but he
was no more conspicuous for that quality than many of his neighbors. He
was the type and representative of a community which not only respected
but required honesty, and were extremely critical and intolerant
towards moral delinquencies. Accustomed all their lives to face danger
and grapple with the mysterious forces of nature, their personal and
moral courage were qualities without which no man could be a leader
or have influence. A liar, a coward, a swindler, and an insincere man
were detected and branded with public contempt. Courage and truth were
commonplace and recognized as essential to manhood.

Abraham Lincoln's originality, fearlessness, and self-confidence, his
unerring perceptions of right and wrong, made him a leader and gave
him an influence which other men did not have. He was born in the same
poverty and ignorance, he grew up in the same environment, and his
muscles were developed by the same labor as his neighbors', but his
mental powers were much keener and acute, his ambition was much higher,
and a consciousness of intellectual superiority sustained him in his
efforts to rise above his surroundings and take the place his genius
warranted. Throughout his entire life he adhered to the code of the
frontier. As a lawyer he would not undertake a case unless it was a good
one. He often said he was a very poor man on a poor case. His sense of
justice had to be aroused before he could do his best. If his client
were wrong, he endeavored to settle the dispute the best way he could
without going into court; if the evidence had been misrepresented to
him, he would throw up the case in the midst of the trial and return the
fee. The public knowledge of that fact gave him great influence with the
courts and kept bad clients away from him.

To a man who once offered him a case the merits of which he did not
appreciate, he made, according to his partner, Mr. Herndon, the
following response:

"Yes, there is no reasonable doubt 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 get for you six
hundred dollars which rightly belong, 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

He carried this code of morals into the Legislature, and there are
several current anecdotes of his refusal to engage in schemes that were
not creditable. On one occasion a caucus was held for consultation over
a proposition Lincoln did not approve. The discussion lasted until
midnight, but he took no part in it. Finally, an appeal was made to
him by his colleagues, who argued that the end would justify the means.
Lincoln closed the debate and defined his own position by saying,--

"You may burn my body to ashes and scatter them to the winds of heaven;
you may drag my soul down to the regions of darkness and despair to be
tormented forever; but you will never get me to support a measure which
I believe to be wrong, although by doing so I may accomplish that which
I believe to be right."

Lincoln did not often indulge in hysterical declamation, but that
sentence is worth quoting because it contains his moral code.

As President he was called upon to deliver a reprimand to an officer who
had been tried by court-martial for quarrelling. It was probably the
"gentlest," say his biographers, Nicolay and Hay, "ever recorded in the
annals of penal discourses." It was as follows:

"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."

Even as a boy in Indiana he acquired a reputation for gentleness,
kindness, and good-nature. He was appealed to by people in trouble, and
his great physical strength and quick intelligence made him a valuable
aid on all occasions. Once he saved the life of the town drunkard,
whom he found freezing by the roadside on a winter night. Picking
him up in his arms, he carried him to the nearest tavern and worked
over him until he revived. The people who lived in the neighborhood
of Gentryville, Indiana, and New Salem, Illinois, where his early
life was spent, have many traditions of his unselfishness and helpful
disposition. He chopped wood for poor widows and sat up all night with
the sick; if a wagon stuck in the mud, he was always the first to offer
assistance, and his powerful arms were equal to those of any three men
in the town. When he was living at the Rutledge tavern at New Salem he
was always willing to give up his bed to a traveller when the house
was full, and to sleep on a counter in his store. He never failed to
be present at a "moving," and would neglect his own business to help a
neighbor out of difficulty. His sympathetic disposition and tender tact
enabled him to enter the lives of the people and give them assistance
without offence, and he was never so happy as when he was doing good.

His religious training was limited. His father and mother, while in
Kentucky, belonged to the sect known as Free-will Baptists, and when
they went to Indiana they became members of the Predestinarian Church,
as it was called; not from any change in belief, but because it was the
only denomination in the neighborhood. Public worship was very rare,
being held only when an itinerant preacher visited that section. Notice
of his approach would be sent throughout the neighborhood for twenty
miles around, and the date would be fixed as far in advance as possible.
When the preacher appeared he would find the entire population gathered
in camp at the place of meeting, which was usually at cross-roads
where there were fodder for the horses and water for man and beast.
After morning preaching people from the same neighborhood or intimate
acquaintances would gather in groups, open their lunch-baskets, and
picnic together. At the afternoon service children and "confessors"
would be baptized, and towards night the party would separate for their
homes, refreshed in faith and uplifted in spirit.

When Thomas Lincoln removed to Illinois he united with the Christian
church commonly called "Campbellites," and in that faith he died.

Abraham Lincoln's belief was clear and fixed so far as it went, but he
rejected important dogmas which are considered essential to salvation
by some of the evangelistic denominations. "Whenever any church will
inscribe over its altar as a qualification for membership the Saviour's
statement of the substance of the law and Gospel, 'Thou shall love the
Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
mind, and thy neighbour as thyself,' that church will I join with all my
heart and soul."

He was an habitual reader of the Bible. He was more familiar with its
contents than most clergymen, and considered it the highest example of
literature in existence as well as the highest code of morals. His study
of the Bible and familiarity with its pages are shown in his literary
style and frequent quotations. In 1864 he wrote his old friend, Joshua
Speed, "I am profitably engaged reading the Bible. Take all of this book
upon reason that you can and the balance upon faith and you will live
and die a better man."

He had no sympathy with theologians. He frequently declared that it was
blasphemy for a preacher to "twist the words of Christ around so as to
sustain his own doctrine," and often remarked that "the more a man knew
of theology the farther he got away from the true spirit of Christ."

"John," he one day said to a friend, "it depends a great deal how you
state a case. When Daniel Webster did it, it was half argument. Now,
you take the subject of predestination, for example. You may state it
one way and you cannot make much out of it; you state it another and it
seems quite reasonable."

When he was a young man at New Salem in 1834 Thomas Paine's "Age of
Reason" and Volney's "Ruines" made a great impression upon him, and
he prepared a review of these books, which it is supposed he intended
to read before a literary society that had been organized in the
neighborhood. His friend, Samuel Hill, with his old-fashioned notions
of atheism, got hold of the manuscript and burned it. Lincoln was quite
indignant at the time, but afterwards admitted that Hill had done him
a service. This incident has often been cited as evidence that Lincoln
was an agnostic, just as other incidents in his life have been used
to prove that he was a spiritualist, and still others that he was a
Freemason; but he was none of them. He commended Masonry, but never
joined that order; his inquisitive mind led him to investigate certain
spiritualistic phenomena, and his essay at New Salem was nothing more
than a presentation of the views of two famous unbelievers without
personal endorsement.

Like Napoleon, Wellington, Bismarck, and other famous men, Lincoln was
very superstitious. That peculiarity appeared frequently during his
life. Even to the very day of his death, as related in Chapter VII., he
told his Cabinet and General Grant of a dream which he was accustomed to
have before important events in the war. A curious incident is related
in his own language:

"A very singular occurrence took place the day I was nominated at
Chicago, four years ago, of which I am reminded to-night. In the
afternoon of the day, returning home from down town, I went upstairs
to Mrs. Lincoln's reading-room. Feeling somewhat tired, I lay down
upon a couch in the room, directly opposite a bureau, upon which was
a looking-glass. As I reclined, my eye fell upon the glass, and I saw
distinctly two images of myself, exactly alike, except that one was a
little paler than the other. I arose, and lay down again with the same
result. It made me quite uncomfortable for a few moments, but, some
friends coming in, the matter passed out of my mind. The next day, while
walking on the street, I was suddenly reminded of the circumstance,
and the disagreeable sensation produced by it returned. I had never
seen anything of the kind before, and did not know what to make of it.
I determined to go home and place myself in the same position, and if
the same effect was produced, I would make up my mind that it was the
natural result of some principle of refraction of optics which I did not
understand, and dismiss it. I tried the experiment, with a like result;
and, as I had said to myself, accounting for it on some principle
unknown to me, it ceased to trouble me. But some time ago I tried to
produce the same effect here by arranging a glass and couch in the same
position, without success."

He did not say, at this time, that either he or Mrs. Lincoln attached
any significance to the phenomenon, but it is known that Mrs. Lincoln
regarded it as a sign that the President would be re-elected.

President Lincoln once invited a famous medium to display his alleged
supernatural powers at the White House, several members of the Cabinet
being present. For the first half-hour the demonstrations were of
a physical character. At length rappings were heard beneath the
President's feet, and the medium stated that an Indian desired to
communicate with him.

"I shall be happy to hear what his Indian majesty has to say," replied
the President, "for I have very recently received a deputation of our
red brethren, and it was the only delegation, black, white, or blue,
which did not volunteer some advice about the conduct of the war."

The medium then called for a pencil and paper, which were laid upon the
table and afterwards covered with a handkerchief. Presently knocks were
heard and the paper was uncovered. To the surprise of all present, it
read as follows:

"Haste makes waste, but delays cause vexations. Give vitality by energy.
Use every means to subdue. Proclamations are useless. Make a bold
front and fight the enemy; leave traitors at home to the care of loyal
men. Less note of preparation, less parade and policy talk, and more
action.--Henry Knox."

"That is not Indian talk," said the President. "Who is Henry Knox?"

The medium, speaking in a strange voice, replied, "The first Secretary
of War."

"Oh, yes; General Knox," said the President. "Stanton, that message is
for you; it is from your predecessor. I should like to ask General Knox
when this rebellion will be put down."

The answer was oracularly indefinite. The medium then called up
Napoleon, who thought one thing, Lafayette another, and Franklin
differed from both.

"Ah!" exclaimed the President; "opinions differ among the saints as
well as among the sinners. Their talk is very much like the talk of my
Cabinet. I should like, if possible, to hear what Judge Douglas says
about this war," said the President.

After an interval, the medium rose from his chair and, resting his left
hand on the back, his right into his bosom, spoke in a voice no one
could mistake who had ever heard Mr. Douglas. He urged the President to
throw aside all advisers who hesitated about the policy to be pursued,
and said that, if victory were followed up by energetic action, all
would be well.

"I believe that," said the President, "whether it comes from spirit or
human. It needs not a ghost from the bourne from which no traveller
returns to tell that."

His taint of superstition, like his tendency to melancholy, was
doubtless inherited from his ancestors and was shared by all sensitive
people whose lives were spent in the mysterious solitude and isolation
of the Western frontier. It is manifested by the denizens of the
forests, the mountains, and the plains, and wherever else sensitive
natures are subjected to loneliness and the company of their own
thoughts. Lincoln's mind was peculiarly sensitive to impressions; his
nature was intensely sympathetic, his imagination was vivid, and his
observation was keen and comprehensive. With all his candor, he was
reticent and secretive in matters that concerned himself, and the
struggle of his early life, his dismal and depressing surroundings,
the death of his mother, and the physical conditions in which he was
born and bred were just the influences to develop the morbid tendency
which was manifested on several occasions in such a manner as to cause
anxiety and even alarm among his friends. He realized the danger of
submitting to it, and the cure invented and prescribed by himself was to
seek for the humorous side of every event and incident and to read all
the humorous books he could find.

His poetic temperament was developed early and frequently manifested
while he was in the White House. He loved melancholy as well as humorous
poems. He could repeat hymns by the hundreds, and quoted Dr. Watts' and
John Wesley's verses as frequently as he did Shakespeare or Petroleum V.
Nasby or Artemas Ward. His favorite poem was "Oh! Why should the Spirit
of Mortal be Proud."

Judge Weldon, of the Court of Claims, remembers the first time he heard
him repeat it. "It was during a term of court, in the same year, at
Lincoln, a little town named for Mr. Lincoln. We were all stopping at
the hotel, which had a very big room with four beds, called the lawyers'
room. Some of us thin fellows doubled up; but I remember that Judge
Davis, who was as large then as he was afterwards, when a Justice of the
Supreme Bench, always had a bed to himself. Mr. Lincoln was an early
riser, and one morning, when up early, as usual, and dressed, he sat
before the big old-fashioned fireplace and repeated aloud from memory
that whole hymn. Somebody asked him for the name of the author; but he
said he had never been able to learn who wrote it, but wished he knew.
There were a great many guesses, and some said that Shakespeare must
have written it. But Mr. Lincoln, who was better read in Shakespeare
than any of us, said that they were not Shakespeare's words. I made
a persistent hunt for the author, and years after found the hymn was
written by an Englishman, William Knox, who was born in 1789 and died in

All his life Lincoln was a temperance man. His first essay was a
plea for temperance. His second was a eulogy of the Declaration of
Independence. He belonged to the Sons of Temperance in Springfield, and
frequently made temperance speeches. Judge Weldon remembers that he was
once in Mr. Douglas's room at Springfield when Lincoln entered, and,
following the custom, Mr. Douglas produced a bottle and some glasses and
asked his callers to join him in a drink. Lincoln declined on the ground
that for thirty years he had been a temperance man and was too old to
change. Leonard Swett says,--

"He told me not more than a year before he was elected President that he
had never tasted liquor in his life. 'What!' I said, 'Do you mean to say
that you never tasted it?' 'Yes,' he replied, 'I never tasted it.'"

In one of his speeches is found this assertion: "Reasonable men have
long since agreed that intemperance is one of the greatest, if not the
greatest, of all evils of mankind."

Mr. C. C. Coffin, a famous newspaper writer of that time, who
accompanied the notification committee from the Chicago Convention to
Springfield, related in his newspaper a few days later an incident
that occurred on that occasion. He says that after the exchange of
formalities Lincoln said,--

"'Mrs. Lincoln will be pleased to see you, gentlemen. You will find her
in the other room. You must be thirsty after your long ride. You will
find a pitcher of water in the library.'

"I crossed the hall and entered the library. There were miscellaneous
books on the shelves, two globes, celestial and terrestrial, in the
corners of the room, a plain table with writing materials upon it, a
pitcher of cold water, and glasses, but no wines or liquors. There was
humor in the invitation to take a glass of water, which was explained to
me by a citizen, who said that when it was known that the committee was
coming, several citizens called upon Mr. Lincoln and informed him that
some entertainment must be provided.

"'Yes, that is so. What ought to be done? Just let me know and I will
attend to it,' he said.

"'Oh, we will supply the needful liquors,' said his friends.

"'Gentlemen,' said Mr. Lincoln, 'I thank you for your kind intentions,
but must respectfully decline your offer. I have no liquors in my house,
and have never been in the habit of entertaining my friends in that way.
I cannot permit my friends to do for me what I will not myself do. I
shall provide cold water--nothing else.'"

Colonel John Hay, one of his secretaries and biographers, says, "Mr.
Lincoln was a man of extremely temperate habits. He made no use of
either whiskey or tobacco during all the years I knew him."

Mr. John G. Nicolay, his private secretary, says, "During all the five
years of my service as his private secretary I never saw him drink a
glass of whiskey and I never knew or heard of his taking one."

There is not the slightest doubt that Lincoln believed in a special
Providence. That conviction appears frequently in his speeches and
in his private letters. In the correspondence which passed between
him and Joshua Speed during a period of almost hopeless despondency
and self-abasement, Lincoln frequently expressed the opinion that God
had sent their sufferings for a special purpose. When Speed finally
acknowledged his happiness after marriage, Lincoln wrote, "I always was
superstitious. I believe God made me one of the instruments of bringing
your Fanny and you together, and which union I have no doubt He had
foreordained. Whatever He designs He will do for me yet. Stand still and
see the salvation of the Lord is my text just now."

Later in life, writing to Thurlow Weed, he said, "Men are not flattered
by being shown that there is a difference of purpose between the
Almighty and themselves. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny
that there is a God governing the world."

In one of his speeches he said, "I know that the Lord is always on the
side of the right; but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and
this nation should be on the Lord's side."

When he learned that his father was very ill and likely to die, he wrote
his step-brother, John Johnston, regretting his inability to come to his
bedside because of illness in his own family, and added,--

"I sincerely hope that father may yet recover his health; but, at all
events, tell him to remember to call upon and confide in our great
and good and merciful Maker, who will not turn away from him in any
extremity. He notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our
heads, and He will not forget the dying man who puts his trust in Him.
Say to him that if we could meet now it is doubtful whether it would not
be more painful than pleasant; but that if it be his lot to go now, he
will soon have a joyous meeting with the many loved ones gone before,
and where the rest of us, through the help of God, hope ere long to join

At Columbus, Ohio, he said to the Legislature of that State, convened in
joint session in the hall of the Assembly, "I turn, then, and look to
the American people, and to that God who has never forsaken them."

In the capital of New Jersey, to the Senate, he said, "I am exceedingly
anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the
people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for
which the struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall
be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this,
His almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great

That he believed in the efficacy of prayer there is no doubt. "I
have been driven many times to my knees," he once remarked, "by the
overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and
that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day."

A clergyman came to Washington from a little village in Central New York
to recover the body of a gallant young captain who had been killed at
the second battle of Bull Run. Having accomplished his errand, he was
presented at the White House by the representative from his district.
The Congressman at once retired, leaving him alone with Lincoln, who
asked in a pleasant tone what he could do for his visitor.

"I have not come to ask any favors of you, Mr. President," the latter
replied. "I have only come to say that the loyal people of the North are
sustaining you and will continue to do so. We are giving you all that we
have,--the lives of our sons as well as our confidence and our prayers.
You must know that no pious father or mother ever kneels in prayer these
days without asking God to give you strength and wisdom."

The tears filled Lincoln's eyes as he thanked his visitor and said, "But
for those prayers I should have faltered and perhaps failed long ago.
Tell every father and mother you know to keep on praying and I will
keep on fighting, for I am sure that God is on our side."

As the clergyman started to leave the room, Lincoln held him by the hand
and said, "I suppose I may consider this a sort of pastoral call."

"Yes," replied the clergyman.

"Out in our country," continued Lincoln, "when a parson made a pastoral
call it was always the custom for the folks to ask him to lead in
prayer, and I should like to ask you to pray with me to-day; pray that I
may have strength and wisdom." The two men knelt side by side before a
settee and the clergyman offered the most fervent appeal to the Almighty
Power that ever fell from his lips. As they rose, Lincoln grasped his
visitor's hand and remarked in a satisfied sort of way,--

"I feel better."

In July, 1863, in Washington, D. C., on the Sunday after the battle
of Gettysburg, General Sickles, who had lost a leg, was brought to
Washington. Lincoln called upon him at the hospital, with his son
Tad, and remained an hour or more. He greeted Sickles heartily and
complimented him on his stout fight at Gettysburg. Sickles asked whether
he was not anxious during the Gettysburg campaign. Lincoln gravely
replied that he was not; that some of his Cabinet and many others in
Washington were, but that he himself had had no fears. General Sickles
inquired his reasons. Lincoln hesitated, but finally replied,--

"Well, I will tell you how it was. In the pinch of your campaign up
there, when everybody seemed panic-stricken and nobody could tell
what was going to happen, I went into my room one day and locked the
door, and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed to Him
mightily for a victory at Gettysburg. I told God that if we were to
win the battle He must do it, for I had done all I could. I told Him
this was His war, and our cause was His cause, but that we couldn't
stand another Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville. And then and there
made a solemn vow to Almighty God that if He would stand by our boys
at Gettysburg I would stand by Him. And He did, and I will. And after
that--I don't know how it was, and I can't explain it, but soon--a sweet
comfort crept into my soul that things would go all right at Gettysburg,
and that is why I had no fears about you."

Presently General Sickles asked what news he had from Vicksburg. The
President answered that he had none worth mentioning, but that Grant
was still "pegging away" down there. He said he thought a good deal of
him as a general and was not going to remove him, although urged to do
so. "Besides," he added, "I have been praying over Vicksburg also, and
believe our Heavenly Father is going to give us victory there, too,
because we need it to bisect the Confederacy and have the Mississippi
flow unvexed to the sea."

John G. Nicolay, who probably knew Lincoln as thoroughly and was as
familiar with his opinions as any one, said,--

"I do not remember ever having discussed religion with Mr. Lincoln, nor
do I know of any authorized statement of his views in existence. He
sometimes talked freely, and never made any concealment of his belief
or unbelief in any dogma or doctrine, but never provoked religious
controversies. I speak more from his disposition and habits than from
any positive declaration on his part. He frequently made remarks about
sermons he had heard, books he had read, or doctrines that had been
advanced, and my opinion as to his religious belief is based upon such
casual evidences. There is not the slightest doubt that he believed in a
Supreme Being of omnipotent power and omniscient watchfulness over the
children of men, and that this great Being could be reached by prayer.
Mr. Lincoln was a praying man; I know that to be a fact. And I have
heard him request people to pray for him, which he would not have done
had he not believed that prayer is answered. Many a time have I heard
Mr. Lincoln ask ministers and Christian women to pray for him, and he
did not do this for effect. He was no hypocrite, and had such reverence
for sacred things that he would not trifle with them. I have heard him
say that he prayed for this or that, and remember one occasion on which
he remarked that if a certain thing did not occur he would lose his
faith in prayer.

"It is a matter of history that he told the Cabinet he had promised his
Maker to issue an emancipation proclamation, and it was not an idle
remark. At the same time he did not believe in some of the dogmas of
the orthodox churches. I have heard him argue against the doctrine of
atonement, for example. He considered it illogical and unjust and a
premium upon evil-doing if a man who had been wicked all his life could
make up for it by a few words or prayers at the hour of death; and he
had no faith in death-bed repentances. He did not believe in several
other articles of the creeds of the orthodox churches. He believed
in the Bible, however. He was a constant reader of the Bible and had
great faith in it, but he did not believe that its entire contents
were inspired. He used to consider it the greatest of all text-books
of morals and ethics, and that there was nothing to compare with it in
literature; but, at the same time, I have heard him say that God had too
much to do and more important things to attend to than to inspire such
insignificant writers as had written some passages in the good book.

"Nor did he believe in miracles. He believed in inexorable laws of
nature, and I have heard him say that the wisdom and glory and greatness
of the Almighty were demonstrated by order and method and not by the
violation of nature's laws.

"It would be difficult for any one to define Mr. Lincoln's position or
to classify him among the sects. I should say that he believed in a good
many articles in the creeds of the orthodox churches and rejected a good
many that did not appeal to his reason.

"He praised the simplicity of the Gospels. He often declared that the
Sermon on the Mount contained the essence of all law and justice, and
that the Lord's Prayer was the sublimest composition in human language.
He was a constant reader of the Bible, but had no sympathy with
theology, and often said that in matters affecting a man's relations
with his Maker he couldn't give a power of attorney.

"Yes, there is a story, and it is probably true, that when he was
very young and very ignorant he wrote an essay that might be called
atheistical. It was after he had been reading a couple of atheistic
books which made a great impression on his mind, and the essay is
supposed to have expressed his views on those books,--a sort of review
of them, containing both approval and disapproval,--and one of his
friends burned it. He was very indignant at the time, but was afterwards
glad of it.

"The opposition of the Springfield clergy to his election was chiefly
due to remarks he made about them. One careless remark, I remember, was
widely quoted. An eminent clergyman was delivering a series of doctrinal
discourses that attracted considerable local attention. Although Lincoln
was frequently invited, he would not be induced to attend them. He
remarked that he wouldn't trust Brother ---- to construe the statutes
of Illinois and much less the laws of God; that people who knew him
wouldn't trust his advice on an ordinary business transaction because
they didn't consider him competent; hence he didn't see why they did so
in the most important of all human affairs, the salvation of their souls.

"These remarks were quoted widely and misrepresented to Lincoln's
injury. In those days people were not so liberal as now, and any one who
criticised a parson was considered a sceptic."

The refusal of the Springfield clergy to support him for President,
to which Mr. Nicolay refers, gave him great concern, and he expressed
himself on that subject quite freely to Mr. Newton Bateman,
Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Illinois, who
occupied a room adjoining and opening into the Executive Chamber at
Springfield, which Lincoln used as an office during the Presidential

"Here are twenty-three ministers of different denominations," he said to
Mr. Bateman, showing a polling list, "and all of them are against me but
three, and here are a great many prominent members of churches; a very
large majority are against me. Mr. Bateman, I am not a Christian,--God
knows I would be one,--but I have carefully read the Bible and I do not
so understand this book," and he drew forth a pocket New Testament.
"These men well know," he continued, "that I am for freedom in the
Territories, freedom everywhere as free as the Constitution and the laws
will permit, and that my opponents are for slavery. They know this, and
yet, with this book in their hands, in the light of which human bondage
cannot live a moment, they are going to vote against me; I do not
understand it at all.

"I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see
the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place
and work for me, and I think He has, I believe I am ready. I am nothing,
but Truth is everything; I know I am right, because I know that liberty
is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God. I have told them
that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and Christ and reason
say the same, and they will find it so.

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

The influence of the Springfield clergy was, however, scarcely
noticeable. Here and there throughout the country some religious
newspaper, minister, or bigoted layman opposed his election on that
pretext, but the numerical strength of this class of his opponents
was very small; and after the inauguration and the development of the
secession conspiracy the Springfield preachers, like other Christian
people from one end of the North to the other, displayed their
patriotism. As the war progressed the influence of the entire church,
Protestant and Catholic, was given to the support of the President,
except occasionally when some extreme antislavery community would
condemn what they considered the procrastination of the President
concerning the emancipation of the slaves. Scarcely a religious body
ever met without adopting resolutions of sympathy and support, and no
manifestations of loyalty and approval throughout the entire war gave
him greater gratification. His response in each case was a confession of
human weakness and his reliance upon Divine Power.

In 1863, when the New School Presbyterians embodied their sentiments
of loyalty to the Union in an eloquent memorial to the President, he
replied, "From the beginning I saw that the issues of our great struggle
depended upon Divine interposition and favor.... Relying as I do upon
the Almighty power, and encouraged as I am by these resolutions that you
have just read," etc.

To a committee of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal
church in 1864 he said, "It is no fault in others that the Methodist
Church sends more soldiers to the field, more nurses to the hospitals,
more prayers to heaven than any other. God bless the Methodist Church!
Bless all the churches; blessed be God who in this great trial giveth us
the churches."

To the Quakers of Iowa, who had sent him an address through Senator
Harlan, he wrote, "It is most cheering and encouraging for me to
know that, in the efforts which I have made, and am making, for the
restoration of a righteous peace to our country, I am upheld and
sustained by the good wishes and prayers of God's people. No one is
more deeply aware than myself that without His favor our highest wisdom
is but as foolishness, and that our most strenuous efforts would avail
nothing in the shadow of His displeasure."

One of the most significant of the President's letters, in which he
expresses himself with less than his usual reserve, was written to Mrs.
Gurney, wife of an eminent preacher of the English Society of Friends,
in the autumn of 1864: "I am much indebted to the good Christian people
of the country for their constant prayers and consolations, and to
no one of them more than to yourself. The purposes of the Almighty
are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to
accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination
of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has
ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error
therein. Meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best lights He gives
us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends He

Being requested to preside at a meeting of the Christian Commission
held in Washington on February 22, 1863, he wrote, "Whatever shall tend
to turn our thoughts from the unreasoning and uncharitable passions,
prejudices, and jealousies incident to a great national trouble such as
ours, and to fix them on the vast and long-enduring consequences, for
weal or for woe, which are to result from the struggle, and especially
to strengthen our reliance on the Supreme Being for the final triumph
of the right, cannot but be well for us all."

Mr. Herndon, his law partner, remembers that he often said that his
creed was the same as that of an old man named Glenn, whom he heard
speak at an experience meeting in Indiana: "When I do good, I feel good,
and when I do bad, I feel bad; and that's my religion."

Hay and Nicolay, his secretaries, in their biography say, "Lincoln was
a man of profound and intense religious feeling. We have no purpose of
attempting to formulate his creed; we question if he himself ever did
so. We only have to look at his authentic public and private utterances
to see how deep and strong in all the latter part of his life was the
current of his religious thought and emotion. He continually invited
and appreciated at their highest value the prayers of good people.
The pressure of the tremendous problems by which he was surrounded;
the awful moral significance of the conflict in which he was the
chief combatant; the overwhelming sense of personal responsibility,
which never left him for an hour,--all contributed to produce, in a
temperament naturally serious and predisposed to a spiritual view of
life and conduct, a sense of reverent acceptance of the guidance of
a Superior Power. From that morning when, standing amid the falling
snow-flakes on the railway car at Springfield, he asked the prayers
of his neighbors in those touching phrases whose echo rose that night
in invocations from thousands of family altars, to the memorable hour
when on the steps of the National Capitol he humbled himself before his
Creator in the sublime words of the second inaugural, there is not an
expression known to have come from his lips or his pen but proves that
he held himself answerable in every act of his career to a more august
tribunal than any on earth. The fact that he was not a communicant
of any church, and that he was singularly reserved in regard to his
personal religious life, gives only the greater force to these striking
proofs of his profound reverence and faith.

"In final substantiation of this assertion we publish two papers from
the hand of the President, one official and the other private, which
bear within themselves the imprint of a sincere devotion and a steadfast
reliance upon the power and benignity of an overruling Providence. The
first is an order which he issued on the 16th of November, 1862, on the
observance of Sunday:

"'The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and
enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men
in the military and naval service. The importance for man and beast of
the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers
and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian
people, and a due regard for the Divine will demand that Sunday labor
in the army and navy be reduced to a measure of strict necessity. The
discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer, nor
the cause they defend be imperilled, by the profanation of the day or
name of the Most High.'

"In September, 1862, while his mind was burdened with the weightiest
question of his life, wearied with all the considerations of law and
expediency with which he had been struggling for two years, he retired
within himself and tried to bring some order into his thoughts by rising
above the wrangling of men and of parties and pondering the relations
of human government to the Divine. In this frame of mind, absolutely
detached from any earthly considerations, he wrote this meditation. It
has never been published. It was not written to be seen of men. It was
penned in the awful sincerity of a perfectly honest soul trying to bring
itself into closer communion with its Maker:

"'The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to
act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be and one must be
wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time.
In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is
something different from the purpose of either party; and yet the human
instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation
to effect His purpose. I am almost ready to say that this is probably
true; that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet.
By His mere great power on the minds of the contestants, He could have
either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the
contest began, and, having begun, He could give the final victory to
either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.'"

On September 22, 1862, at a Cabinet meeting, Lincoln submitted his
determination to issue a proclamation of emancipation of the slaves. He
said that his mind was fixed, his decision made, and therefore he did
not ask the opinion of his advisers as to the act, but he wished his
paper announcing his course to be as correct in terms as it could be
made without any change in his determination. That is the recollection
of Mr. Welles, the Secretary of the Navy, who in his diary refers to
Lincoln's "Covenant with God," as follows:

"In the course of the discussion on this paper, which was long, earnest,
and, on the general principle involved, harmonious, he remarked that
he had made a vow--a covenant--that if God gave us the victory in the
approaching battle, he would consider it an indication of Divine will,
and that it was his duty to move forward in the cause of emancipation.
It might be thought strange, he said, that he had in this way submitted
the disposal of matters when the way was not clear to his mind what he
should do. God had decided this question in favor of the slaves. He was
satisfied it was right,--was confirmed and strengthened in his action by
the vow and the results."

The diary of Secretary Chase for the same day contains a similar account
of the same discussion, and quotes the President as saying,--

"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 any one, 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."

Mr. Usher, the Secretary of the Interior, says that when the draft of
the Emancipation Proclamation was submitted to the Cabinet, Mr. Chase

"This paper is one of the utmost importance, greater than any state
paper ever made by this government. A paper of so much importance, and
involving the liberties of so many people, ought, I think, to make some
reference to the Deity. I do not observe anything of the kind in it."

Lincoln said, "No; I overlooked it. Some reference to the Deity must be
inserted. Mr. Chase, won't you make a draft of what you think ought to
be inserted?"

Mr. Chase promised to do so, and at the next meeting presented the

"And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice,
warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the
considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God."

When Lincoln read the paragraph, Mr. Chase said, "You may not approve
it, but I thought this or something like it would be appropriate."

Lincoln replied, "I do approve it; it cannot be bettered, and I will
adopt it in the very words you have written."

The reader has perceived from these pages the strength and the weakness
of Abraham Lincoln. His errors were due to mercy and not to malice; to
prudence and not to thoughtlessness or pride; to deliberation and not
to recklessness. Perhaps he might have shortened the war by removing
McClellan and placing in command of the armies before Richmond a
commander of greater force and energy; perhaps he might have abolished
human bondage by earlier action, as demanded by the antislavery element
in the North; but who can tell what disasters might have been caused by
impetuous action? If Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan had been at his side
at the beginning of the war, history might have been different.

But who is so perfect or so wise as to judge Abraham Lincoln?

His greatest fault was his inability to suppress his sympathies. He
once said, "If I have one vice, it is not being able to say 'No.' And I
consider it a vice. Thank God for not making me a woman. I presume if He
had He would have made me just as ugly as I am, and nobody would ever
have tempted me."

On another occasion he said, "Some of our generals complain that I
impair discipline and encourage insubordination in the army by my
pardons and respites; but it rests me after a hard day's work if I can
find some good cause for saving a man's life; and I go to bed happy as I
think how joyous the signing of my name will make him and his family and
his friends."

And with a happy smile beaming upon his careworn face, he again signed
his name that saved another life. It was his theory that when a man is
sincerely penitent for his misdeeds and gives satisfactory evidence of
it, he can safely be pardoned.

An old lady came to him with tears in her eyes to express her gratitude
for the pardon of her son, a truant soldier.

"Good-by, Mr. Lincoln," she said; "I shall probably never see you again
until we meet in heaven."

He was deeply moved. He took her right hand in both of his and said, "I
am afraid with all my troubles I shall never get to that resting-place
you speak of; but if I do, I am sure I shall find you. That you wish
me to get there is, I believe, the best wish you could make for me.

To his oldest and most intimate friend he said, "Speed, die when I may,
I want it said of me by those who know me best, that I always plucked a
thistle and planted a flower when I thought a flower would grow."

His greatness consisted not in his eloquence as an orator, nor his
shrewdness as a lawyer, nor his tact as a diplomatist, nor his genius
in planning and directing military affairs, nor his executive ability,
but in his absolute self-control, his unselfishness, the full maturity
of his wisdom, the strength of his convictions, his sound judgment, his
absolute integrity, his unwavering adherence to the principles of truth,
justice, and honor, his humanity, his love of country, his sublime faith
in the people and in Republican institutions. He was without malice or
the spirit of resentment, without envy or jealousy, and he suppressed
his passions to a degree beyond that of most men. He entered the
Presidency with an inadequate conception of his own responsibilities,
but when he saw his duty he did it with courage, endurance, magnanimity,
and unselfish devotion. In his eulogy of Lincoln, uttered a few days
after the assassination, Ralph Waldo Emerson said,--

"He grew according to the need; his mind mastered the problem of the
day; and as the problem grew so did his comprehension of it. Rarely was
a man so fitted to the event.

"In four years--four years of battle days--his endurance, his fertility
and resources, his magnanimity, were sorely tried and never found
wanting. There, by his courage, his justice, his even temper, his
fertile counsel, his humanity, he stood a heroic figure in the centre of
an heroic epoch."


  Acceptance, Lincoln's letter of, 157

  Adams, Charles Francis, 354

  ----, John Quincy, 144

  Address, first inaugural, 170

  ----, second inaugural, 89

  Admitted to the bar, 65

  Advice to young lawyers, 70, 82

  Alley, John B., 54, 175, 216

  Amendment, thirteenth, adopted, 337

  Ancestry of Lincoln, 15

  Anderson, General Robert, 231, 308

  Anecdotes of Lincoln, 29, 49, 69, 74, 81, 95, 128, 133, 141, 159,
        161, 164, 175, 178, 220, 222, 226, 234, 259, 278, 280, 290,
        310, 330, 343, 360

  Anger, Lincoln's, 54

  Appearance, Lincoln's, 48

  Argument, Lincoln's method of, 79, 86, 96, 100, 125

  Arrival at Washington, Lincoln's, 169

  Assassination conspiracy, 168

  ---- of Lincoln, 311

  Atheism, story of Lincoln's, 376

  Autobiography, Lincoln's, 59

  Bailache, William H., 170

  Baker, Edward D., 54, 83, 134, 137, 169

  Bar, early practice at, 65, 66, 83

  Bateman, Dr. Newton, 158, 388

  Bates, Edward, 181, 298

  Beecher, Henry Ward, 190

  Berry and Lincoln, 34, 63

  Bible, Lincoln's admiration for, 387

  Birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, 20

  Bixby, letters to Mrs., 51

  Black Hawk War, 65, 229

  Blair, Francis P., 187

  ----, Montgomery, 181, 187, 191

  Bloomington Convention, 105, 149

  Books, Lincoln's early, 56

  Boone, Daniel, related to Lincoln, 16

  Booth, John Wilkes, 311

  Boutwell, George S., 216

  Boyhood of Lincoln, 21, 24, 60, 93

  Brown, John, 322

  Browning, Orville H., 39, 134, 170

  Bryant, William Cullen, 124

  Buchanan Cabinet, disloyalty of, 165

  ---- sends emissary to Lincoln, 162

  Buell, General, 252

  Bull Run, battle of, 236

  Burns, Lincoln's love of, 288

  Burnside, General, 262

  Butler, General B. F., 273, 294, 323, 333

  Cabin in which Lincoln was born, 19

  Cabinet, dissensions of, 186, 235, 356

  ----, selection of, 174, 179, 193

  Calhoun, John, 35, 63

  Cameron, Simon, 193, 220, 238, 325

  Campaign of, Presidential, 1860, 155

  Campaigning, Lincoln's method of, 96, 133

  Campaigns, plans of military, 249

  Campbell, John A., 272

  Canal, isthmus, 334

  Candidate for Congress, 137

  ---- for Legislature, 129

  ---- for President, 158

  ---- for Senate, 146, 150

  Capacity for labor, Lincoln's, 279

  Capital, removal of Illinois State, 135

  Cartter, Judge, 175, 360

  Cartwright, Peter, 138

  Cass, General, 231

  Chandler, A. B., 53

  Character, Lincoln's, 14, 91, 370, 396

  Chase, Salmon P., 174, 204, 210, 216, 243, 340, 356

  Chicago Convention (1860), 158

  Chief-Justice, Chase appointed, 216

  Children, Lincoln's, 46, 287

  ----, Lincoln's love of his, 46

  Choate, Joseph H., 125

  Christian Commission, 390

  Church, Lincoln's attendance at, 370

  Circuit, following the judicial, 67, 83

  Clergy, opposition of Springfield, 387

  Coffey, Titian J., 184, 297

  Coles, Edward, Governor, 315

  Colfax, Schuyler, 153, 182, 310, 330

  Colonization, Lincoln advocates negro, 333

  Confusion in government, 186, 233

  Congress, speeches in, 98, 145

  Congressional campaign, 137

  ---- experience, Lincoln's, 139

  Conners, Senator, 55

  Contraband question, the, 323

  Convention, Bloomington, 156

  ----, Decatur, 26, 149

  ----, Illinois State (1860), 156

  ---- of 1860, National, 27, 158

  Cooper Institute speech, 86, 124, 321

  Courage, Lincoln's, 272

  Creed, Lincoln's, 391

  Dana, Charles A., 227, 364

  Davis, David, 67, 83, 193, 369, 379

  ----, Henry Winter, 187

  ----, Jefferson, 140, 231

  Death, Lincoln's, 313

  Debate, Lincoln's first, 96

  ---- with Douglas, 86, 100, 110, 114

  Debt, Lincoln's, 33

  Decatur Convention, 149

  Defeat by people, Lincoln's only, 130

  Democracy, Lincoln's, 345

  Dennison, William, 193, 242

  Depew, Chauncey M., 85, 93, 281, 361

  Diplomacy, Lincoln's ability in, 342, 346, 351

  Diplomatist, definition of, 342

  Disloyalty in Buchanan's Cabinet, 233

  Dodge, William E., 368

  Douglas, Stephen A., 40, 74, 83, 86, 100, 107, 114, 122, 134, 151,
        169, 320, 380

  Dreams, Lincoln's, 308

  Duel, Lincoln's, 42

  Earnings, Lincoln's first, 24

  Eckert, General, 53, 227

  Education, Lincoln's, 58, 91

  Edwards, Ninian W., 40

  Election declared, Lincoln's, 166

  ----, Presidential, of 1860, 161

  Electoral vote counted, 166

  Emancipation accomplished, 335

  ----, Lincoln's ideas of, 319

  ---- proclamation, 183, 329, 335, 394

  Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 396

  Emigration of Lincoln family, 17

  England, diplomatic relations with, 347, 351

  Essay, Lincoln's first, 94

  Ethics, Lincoln's legal, 70

  Experience, Lincoln's legislative, 135

  ----, ---- Congressional, 139

  Farewell to Springfield neighbors, 47

  Faults, Lincoln's, 395

  Fees, Lincoln's, 45, 72

  Fenton, Reuben E., 173

  Fessenden, William Pitt, 214, 361

  Field, Munsell B., 213

  First dollar, Lincoln's, 24

  ---- lawsuit, Lincoln's, 65

  Fish, Hamilton, 350

  Flatboat, Lincoln's, 32

  Foreign policy, 346

  Fortune, Lincoln's, 45

  France, diplomatic relations with, 348

  "Freeport Doctrine," Douglas's, 107, 120

  Frémont, General John C., 246

  Frémont, Mrs., 247

  Fry, General James F., 88, 221, 344

  Fugitive-slave law, 323

  Garrison, William Lloyd, 290

  Genius, Lincoln's military, 232, 249, 269

  Gentry, Mr., 25

  Gentryville, Indiana, 21, 25, 94

  Gettysburg speech, 86, 89

  Giddings, Joshua R., 140

  Gilmer, John A., 181

  God, belief in, 370

  Governorship of Oregon, offered, 137

  Graham, Menton, 62

  Grammar, Lincoln's first, 63

  Grant, General, 177, 232, 245, 252, 253, 260, 300, 308

  Greeley, Horace, 92, 284, 332

  Green, General Duff, 162

  Gurley, Rev. Dr., 313, 370

  Hahn, letter to Governor, 337

  Halleck, General, 191, 251

  Hanks, Dennis, 26

  ----, John, 23, 27, 32

  ----, Nancy, Lincoln's mother, 18, 22

  Harris, Senator, 311

  Hay, Colonel John, 88, 284, 311, 381

  Hayti, recognition of, 328

  Herndon, W. H., 33, 108, 372

  Holloway, Commissioner of Patents, 174

  Holmes's poems, Lincoln's love of, 289

  Holt, Judge-Advocate-General, 293

  Home, Lincoln's first, 19

  ----, Lincoln's second, 20

  ----, Lincoln's third, 21

  ----, Lincoln's fourth, 26

  ----, Lincoln's fifth, 44

  ----, Lincoln's sixth, 45

  ---- life, Lincoln's, 45, 227, 284

  Honesty, Lincoln's, 34, 84, 371

  Hood's poems, Lincoln's love of, 288

  Hooker, General Joseph, 263

  "House divided against itself" speech, 110

  Humor, Lincoln's, 50, 93, 281, 344, 361

  Hunter, General David, 247, 328

  Illinois Central Railroad, litigation with, 72

  ---- State Convention of 1860, 156

  Inauguration, Lincoln's first, 169

  ----, Lincoln's second, 89

  Indiana, migration to, 21

  Indiana, Revised Statutes of, 56

  Infidelity, story of Lincoln's, 376

  Invention, Lincoln's, 32

  Jefferson, Joseph, reminiscences of, 68

  Johnson, Reverdy, 76

  Johnston, General Albert Sidney, 231

  ----, John, Lincoln's step-brother, 23, 30, 32, 382

  ----, Sally Bush, 23, 30

  Judd, Norman B., 154, 188

  Judicial procedure, early, 66

  Julian, George W., 174, 225

  Kasson, John A., 223

  Kelso, Jack, 95

  Kernan, Francis, 296

  Kindness of heart, Lincoln's, 279, 292, 296

  Lamon, Ward, 310

  Land Office Commissionership, 143

  Law-books, Lincoln's first, 57, 64

  Law, how he came to study, 56

  Lawyer, Lincoln becomes a, 64

  Learning, Lincoln's love of, 56, 78, 91

  Lee's surrender, 307

  Legislature, candidate for, 129

  Liberia, recognition of, 328

  Lincoln admitted to the bar, 65

  ----, ancestry of, 15

  ----, anger of, 54

  ---- appointed postmaster, 34

  ----, arrival in Washington of, 169

  ----, assassination of, 311

  ----, atheism of, story of, 376

  ----, autobiography of, 59

  ----, birthplace of, 20

  ----, Black Hawk War, 65, 229

  ----, boyhood of, 21, 24, 60, 93

  ----, candidate for President, 158

  ----, character of, 14, 91, 370, 396

  ----, code of morals of, 372

  ----, Congressional experience of, 139

  ----, courage of, 272

  ----, creed of, 391

  ----, death of, 313

  ----, debate of, with Douglas, 40, 74, 83, 86, 100, 107, 114, 122,
              134, 151, 160, 169, 320, 380

  ----, diplomacy of, 342, 346, 351

  ----, duel of, 42

  ----, education of, 58, 91

  ----, election of, declared, 166

  ----, farewell of, to neighbors, 47

  ----, faults of, 395

  ----, fees of, 45, 72

  ----, first campaign of, for Legislature, 129

  ----, first earnings of, 24

  ----, first impressions of, of slavery, 314

  ----, first inauguration of, 169

  ----, first lawsuit of, 65

  ----, first meeting of, with McClellan, 71

  ----, first school of, 61

  ---- first suggested for President, 153

  ----, foreign policy of, 346

  ----, fortune of, 45, 74

  ----, grandmother of, 17

  ----, home life of, 45

  ----, homes of, 19, 20, 21, 26, 44, 45

  ----, honesty of, 34, 84, 371

  ----, journey of, to New Orleans, 25

  ----, kindness of heart of, 279, 292, 296

  ----, last speech of, 338

  ----, legal ethics of, 70, 83

  ----, legal methods of, 74, 79, 83, 86

  ----, legislative experience of, 135

  ----, letter of, accepting Presidential nomination, 157

  ----, "Lost Speech" of, 106

  ----, love-affairs of, 35, 37, 38, 40

  ----, love of, for his children, 46, 53

  ----, ----, for learning, 56, 78, 91

  ----, marriage of, 44

  ----, memory of, 93

  ----, method of argument of, 79, 86, 96, 100, 125

  ----, military genius of, 232, 249, 269

  ----, muscular strength of, 28

  ----, nomination of, for Congress, 138

  ----, notification of, of nomination to Presidency, 156

  ----, oratory of, 86, 116

  ----, Peoria speech of, 91

  ----, personal appearance of, 48

  ----, place in history of, 13, 86, 91

  ----, plans of, for purchasing slaves, 326

  ----, political career of, 129

  ----, political sagacity of, 344

  ----, popularity of, 130

  ----, receives emissaries from rebel leaders, 163

  ----, recommendations of, for office, 142

  ----, religious views of, 370, 381

  ---- seeks Presidential nomination, 155

  ----, sisters of, 20, 26

  ----, speeches of, 95, 97, 100, 114, 125, 133

  ----, Springfield speech of, 104, 109

  ----, stature of, 29

  ----, step-mother of, 23, 30

  ----, superstitions of, 309

  ----, surveying of, 34

  ----, visit to Richmond of, 271

  ----, weakness of, 395

  Lincoln, Anna, 17

  ----, Robert T., 30, 46, 177, 310, 312

  ----, "Tad", 287

  ----, Thomas, 17, 21, 30, 375

  ----, Willie, 277

  Liquor selling, Lincoln's, 34

  Literary style, Lincoln's, 86

  Locke, David R., 36, 51

  Logan, Stephen T., 35, 44, 69

  "Lost Speech," Lincoln's, 106

  Louisiana, reconstruction of, 339

  Love-affairs, Lincoln's, 35, 38

  Lovejoy, assassination of, 317

  Lyons, Lord, 350

  Maltby, Captain, 55

  Markland, General, 189

  Marriage, Lincoln's, 44

  Mason-Slidell affair, 350

  McClellan's first meeting with Lincoln, 71

  McClellan, General, 197, 206, 238, 250

  McCulloch, Hugh, 183, 214, 309, 340

  McCulloch, Mrs., 283

  McDowell, General, 237

  McKinley, William, 342

  Meade, General George C., 268

  Medill, Joseph, 122

  Melancholy, Lincoln's, 50

  Memory, Lincoln's, 93

  Methods, Lincoln's legal, 74, 79, 83

  ----, Lincoln's political, 133

  Mexican question, 354

  Migration to Illinois, 26

  Military genius, Lincoln's, 232, 249, 269

  Missouri Compromise, 102, 146

  Monroe Doctrine, 354

  Moral courage, Lincoln's, 130

  Morals, Lincoln's code of, 372

  Morgan, E. D., 29

  Muscular strength, Lincoln's, 28

  Negroes, enlistment of, 325

  New Orleans, Lincoln's journey to, 25, 32, 314, 318

  Nicolay, John G., 90, 158, 199, 204, 214, 250, 379, 385

  Nominated for Congress, 138

  Nomination, notified of Presidential, 156, 380

  Office seekers, clamors of, 164, 186, 279

  Offutt, Denton, 32, 62, 129

  Oglesby, Richard J., 26

  Oratory, Lincoln's, 86, 125

  Oregon, offered governorship of, 143

  Owen, Robert Dale, 360

  Owens, Mary, 38

  Pardon of soldiers, 36, 52

  Patent case, Lincoln's, 75

  Patronage, Lincoln's opinions about, 143

  Peace Commissioners, 355

  Peoria speech, Lincoln's, 91

  Petroleum V. Nasby, 36, 51, 280

  Philadelphia speech (1860), 167

  Pinkerton, Allan, 168

  Platform, Lincoln's first political, 129

  Poem, Lincoln's favorite, 379

  Poems, Lincoln's, 94

  Poetry, love of, 95, 287, 379

  Politician, definition of, 342

  Political career, Lincoln's, 129

  ---- sagacity, Lincoln's, 96, 133, 160, 171, 177, 199, 344

  Pomeroy, Senator, 211

  Poore, Ben: Perley, 289

  Popularity, Lincoln's, 130

  Porter, Admiral, 272

  Postmaster, Lincoln appointed, 34

  Practice, Lincoln's law, 74, 82

  Prayer, Lincoln's belief in, 382

  Presbyterian Church, Springfield, 46

  President, Lincoln elected, 161

  Presidential nomination, Lincoln seeks, 155

  Press, Lincoln's respect for, 283, 289

  Proclamation, Emancipation, 183, 329, 335, 394

  Property, Lincoln's, 45

  Rails that Lincoln split, 26

  Rathbone, Major, 311

  Rebel leaders send emissary to Lincoln, 162

  Recommendations for office, Lincoln's, 142

  Relatives in Kentucky, 16

  ---- in Virginia, 16

  Religious prejudice against, 137

  ---- views, Lincoln's, 370

  Republican National Convention (1856), 149
    (1860), 156

  Rice, Governor, 296

  Richmond, Lincoln visits, 271

  Rutledge, Anne, 37

  Sagacity, Lincoln's political, 160, 171, 177

  School, Lincoln's first, 61

  Scott, General, 229, 235, 242

  Secession begins, 161

  Senate, candidate for, 146, 150

  ----, difficulty with, 356

  Senatorial campaign, 108, 146

  Seward, William H., 181, 197, 204, 208, 236, 334, 337, 348, 351,

  Shakespeare, Lincoln's love of, 288

  Shellabarger, Judge, 222

  Sheridan, General, 270, 339

  Sherman, General, 232, 270, 235, 269, 300

  Shields, James, 40, 42

  Short, James, 33

  Sickles, General Daniel E., 384

  Sisters, Lincoln's, 20

  Slavery, Lincoln's first impressions of, 25, 57, 314

  ----, first protest against, 316

  ----, Lincoln's plan to abolish, in Washington, 318

  Slaves, Lincoln's plans for purchase of, 326

  ----, money value of, 327

  Smith, Caleb B., 182

  Social life in Washington, 38, 227

  Speakership, candidate for, 136

  Speech at Philadelphia, 167

  ----, Lincoln's last, 338

  ----, the "Lost", 106

  Speeches, campaign, 95, 133

  ----, first political, 95

  ---- in Congress, 98, 144, 145

  ---- in Legislature, 97

  Speed, James, 185

  ----, Joshua F., 41, 96, 185, 375, 396

  Spiritualism, Lincoln's views of, 376

  Springfield made capital of Illinois, 135

  ---- speech, Lincoln's, 104, 109

  Stanton, Edwin D., 183, 189, 218, 224, 244, 253, 290, 298, 309,

  ----, Lincoln's first meeting with, 76

  Statesmanship? what is, 342

  Stature, Lincoln's, 29

  Stephens, Alexander H., 145, 162, 355

  Step-mother, Lincoln's, 23, 30

  Stevens, Thaddeus, 52

  Stoddard, W. O., 265

  Strength, muscular, Lincoln's, 28

  Stuart, John T., 64

  Study, Lincoln's habits of, 58, 77, 91

  Stump oratory, Lincoln's, 96, 104, 114, 125, 133

  Suffrage, negro, Lincoln's views on, 337, 338

  Sumner, Charles, 176, 216, 272, 334

  Sunday proclamation, Lincoln's, 392

  Superstition, Lincoln's, 309, 376

  Supreme Court, Chase's appointment to, 216

  Surveying, Lincoln's, 34

  Swett, Leonard, 60, 84, 380

  Tact, Lincoln's, 171, 285, 343, 361

  "Tad" Lincoln, 287

  Taney, Chief-Justice, 169

  Taylor, President, election of, 142

  Teachers, Lincoln's, 61

  Temperance, Lincoln's views on, 380

  Theatre, Ford's, 311

  Thomas, General, 270

  Tod, Governor, 214

  Todd, Miss Mary, 40, 44, 47

  Tragedy in Lincoln family, 17

  Trent affair, 350

  Trumbull, Lyman, 108, 148, 357

  Tuck, Amos, 144, 176

  Usher, John T., 183, 340

  Wade, Benjamin F., 187

  Washburne, E. B., 141, 148, 165, 169, 253

  Weakness, Lincoln's, 395

  Webster, Daniel, 140

  Weed, Thurlow, 160, 171, 173, 181, 197, 382

  Weldon, Lawrence, 80, 379

  Welles, Gideon, 184, 196, 310

  Wentworth, Long John, 75

  Whig party organized, 136

  White, Horace, 104, 118, 149

  Wilkes, Captain Charles, 350

  Wilson, Henry, 296

  Wit, Lincoln's, 50, 91, 96

  Yates, Richard, 103


Transcriber's Notes:

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

"fugitive slave law" and "fugitive-slave law" both appear in the
original book; regularized to "fugitive-slave law" in this eBook.

"proslavery" and "pro-slavery" both occur in the original book;
unchanged here.

Letter facing page 168: in handwritten date "October 3, 1861", "3"
(rather than "5") is based on examination of other samples of Lincoln's

Page 289: "Ben: Perley Poore" did abbreviate his first name with a
colon. His name also appears without a colon on page 98.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Abraham Lincoln" ***

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