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´╗┐Title: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
Author: Ketcham, Henry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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

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  I.       The Wild West
  II.      The Lincoln Family
  III.     Early Years
  IV.      In Indiana
  V.       Second Journey to New Orleans
  VI.      Desultory Employments
  VII.     Entering Politics
  VIII.    Entering the Law
  IX.      On the Circuit
  X.       Social Life and Marriage
  XI.      The Encroachments of Slavery
  XII.     The Awakening of the Lion
  XIII.    Two Things that Lincoln Missed
  XIV.     Birth of the Republican Party
  XV.      The Battle of the Giants
  XVI.     Growing Audacity of the Slave Power
  XVII.    The Backwoodsman at the Center of Eastern Culture
  XVIII.   The Nomination of 1860
  XIX.     The Election
  XX.      Four Long Months
  XXI.     Journey to Washington
  XXII.    The Inauguration
  XXIII.   Lincoln his Own President
  XXIV.    Fort Sumter
  XXV.     The Outburst of Patriotism
  XXVI.    The War Here to Stay
  XXVII.   The Darkest Hour of the War
  XXVIII.  Lincoln and Fremont
  XXIX.    Lincoln and McClellan
  XXX.     Lincoln and Greeley
  XXXI.    Emancipation
  XXXII.   Discouragements
  XXXIII.  New Hopes
  XXXIV.   Lincoln and Grant
  XXXV.    Literary Characteristics
  XXXVI.   Second Election
  XXXVII.  Close of the War
  XXXVIII. Assassination
  XXXIX.   A Nation's Sorrow
  XL.      The Measure of a Man
  XLI.     Testimonies


The question will naturally be raised, Why should there be another Life
of Lincoln? This may be met by a counter question, Will there ever be a
time in the near future when there will _not_ be another Life of
Lincoln? There is always a new class of students and a new enrolment of
citizens. Every year many thousands of young people pass from the
Grammar to the High School grade of our public schools. Other thousands
are growing up into manhood and womanhood. These are of a different
constituency from their fathers and grandfathers who remember the civil
war and were perhaps in it.

"To the younger generation," writes Carl Schurz, "Abraham Lincoln has
already become a half mythical figure, which, in the haze of historic
distance, grows to more and more heroic proportions, but also loses in
distinctness of outline and figure." The last clause of this remark is
painfully true. To the majority of people now living, his outline and
figure are dim and vague. There are to-day professors and presidents of
colleges, legislators of prominence, lawyers and judges, literary men,
and successful business men, to whom Lincoln is a tradition. It cannot
be expected that a person born after the year (say) 1855, could
remember Lincoln more than as a name. Such an one's ideas are made up
not from his remembrance and appreciation of events as they occurred,
but from what he has read and heard about them in subsequent years.

The great mine of information concerning the facts of Lincoln's life
is, and probably will always be, the History by his secretaries,
Nicolay and Hay. This is worthily supplemented by the splendid volumes
of Miss Tarbell. There are other biographies of great value. Special
mention should be made of the essay by Carl Schurz, which is classic.

The author has consulted freely all the books on the subject he could
lay his hands on. In this volume there is no attempt to write a history
of the times in which Lincoln lived and worked. Such historical events
as have been narrated were selected solely because they illustrated
some phase of the character of Lincoln. In this biography the single
purpose has been to present the living man with such distinctness of
outline that the reader may have a sort of feeling of being acquainted
with him. If the reader, finishing this volume, has a vivid realization
of Lincoln as a man, the author will be fully repaid.

To achieve this purpose in brief compass, much has been omitted. Some
of the material omitted has probably been of a value fully equal to
some that has been inserted. This could not well be avoided. But if the
reader shall here acquire interest enough in the subject to continue
the study of this great, good man, this little book will have served
its purpose.

  H. K.
  WESTFIELD, NEW JERSEY, February, 1901.



At the beginning of the twentieth century there is, strictly speaking,
no frontier to the United States. At the beginning of the nineteenth
century, the larger part of the country was frontier. In any portion of
the country to-day, in the remotest villages and hamlets, on the
enormous farms of the Dakotas or the vast ranches of California, one is
certain to find some, if not many, of the modern appliances of
civilization such as were not dreamed of one hundred years ago. Aladdin
himself could not have commanded the glowing terms to write the
prospectus of the closing years of the nineteenth century. So, too, it
requires an extraordinary effort of the imagination to conceive of the
condition of things in the opening years of that century.

The first quarter of the century closed with the year 1825. At that
date Lincoln was nearly seventeen years old. The deepest impressions of
life are apt to be received very early, and it is certain that the
influences which are felt previous to seventeen years of age have much
to do with the formation of the character. If, then, we go back to the
period named, we can tell with sufficient accuracy what were the
circumstances of Lincoln's early life. Though we cannot precisely tell
what he had, we can confidently name many things, things which in this
day we class as the necessities of life, which he had to do without,
for the simple reason that they had not then been invented or

In the first place, we must bear in mind that he lived in the woods.
The West of that day was not wild in the sense of being wicked,
criminal, ruffian. Morally, and possibly intellectually, the people of
that region would compare with the rest of the country of that day or
of this day. There was little schooling and no literary training. But
the woodsman has an education of his own. The region was wild in the
sense that it was almost uninhabited and untilled. The forests,
extending from the mountains in the East to the prairies in the West,
were almost unbroken and were the abode of wild birds and wild beasts.
Bears, deer, wild-cats, raccoons, wild turkeys, wild pigeons, wild
ducks and similar creatures abounded on every hand.

Consider now the sparseness of the population. Kentucky has an area of
40,000 square miles. One year after Lincoln's birth, the total
population, white and colored, was 406,511, or an average of ten
persons--say less than two families--to the square mile. Indiana has
an area of 36,350 square miles. In 1810 its total population was
24,520, or an average of one person to one and one-half square miles;
in 1820 it contained 147,173 inhabitants, or about four to the square
mile; in 1825 the population was about 245,000, or less than seven to
the square mile.

The capital city, Indianapolis, which is to-day of surpassing beauty,
was not built nor thought of when the boy Lincoln moved into the State.

Illinois, with its more than 56,000 square miles of territory, harbored
in 1810 only 12,282 people; in 1820, only 55,211, or less than one to
the square mile; while in 1825 its population had grown a trifle over
100,000 or less than two to the square mile.

It will thus be seen that up to his youth, Lincoln dwelt only in the
wildest of the wild woods, where the animals from the chipmunk to the
bear were much more numerous, and probably more at home, than man.

There were few roads of any kind, and certainly none that could be
called good. For the mud of Indiana and Illinois is very deep and very
tenacious. There were good saddle-horses, a sufficient number of oxen,
and carts that were rude and awkward. No locomotives, no bicycles, no
automobiles. The first railway in Indiana was constructed in 1847, and
it was, to say the least, a very primitive affair. As to carriages,
there may have been some, but a good carriage would be only a waste on
those roads and in that forest.

The only pen was the goose-quill, and the ink was home-made. Paper was
scarce, expensive, and, while of good material, poorly made. Newspapers
were unknown in that virgin forest, and books were like angels' visits,
few and far between.

There were scythes and sickles, but of a grade that would not be
salable to-day at any price. There were no self-binding harvesters, no
mowing machines. There were no sewing or knitting machines, though
there were needles of both kinds. In the woods thorns were used for

Guns were flint-locks, tinder-boxes were used until the manufacture of
the friction match. Artificial light came chiefly from the open
fireplace, though the tallow dip was known and there were some
housewives who had time to make them and the disposition to use them.
Illumination by means of molded candles, oil, gas, electricity, came
later. That was long before the days of the telegraph.

In that locality there were no mills for weaving cotton, linen, or
woolen fabrics. All spinning was done by means of the hand loom, and
the common fabric of the region was linsey-woolsey, made of linen and
woolen mixed, and usually not dyed.

Antiseptics were unknown, and a severe surgical operation was
practically certain death to the patient. Nor was there ether,
chloroform, or cocaine for the relief of pain.

As to food, wild game was abundant, but the kitchen garden was not
developed and there were no importations. No oranges, lemons, bananas.
No canned goods. Crusts of rye bread were browned, ground, and boiled;
this was coffee. Herbs of the woods were dried and steeped; this was
tea. The root of the sassafras furnished a different kind of tea, a
substitute for the India and Ceylon teas now popular. Slippery elm bark
soaked in cold water sufficed for lemonade. The milk-house, when there
was one, was built over a spring when that was possible, and the milk
vessels were kept carefully covered to keep out snakes and other
creatures that like milk.

Whisky was almost universally used. Indeed, in spite of the
constitutional "sixteen-to-one," it was locally used as the standard of
value. The luxury of quinine, which came to be in general use
throughout that entire region, was of later date.

These details are few and meager. It is not easy for us, in the midst
of the luxuries, comforts, and necessities of a later civilization, to
realize the conditions of western life previous to 1825. But the
situation must be understood if one is to know the life of the boy

Imagine this boy. Begin at the top and look down him--a long look, for
he was tall and gaunt. His cap in winter was of coon-skin, with the
tail of the animal hanging down behind. In summer he wore a misshapen
straw hat with no hat-band. His shirt was of linsey-woolsey, above
described, and was of no color whatever, unless you call it "the color
of dirt." His breeches were of deer-skin with the hair outside. In dry
weather these were what you please, but when wet they hugged the skin
with a clammy embrace, and the victim might sigh in vain for sanitary
underwear. These breeches were held up by one suspender. The hunting
shirt was likewise of deer-skin. The stockings,--there weren't any
stockings. The shoes were cow-hide, though moccasins made by his mother
were substituted in dry weather. There was usually a space of several
inches between the breeches and the shoes, exposing a tanned and bluish
skin. For about half the year he went barefoot.

There were schools, primitive and inadequate, indeed, as we shall
presently see, but "the little red schoolhouse on the hill," with the
stars and stripes floating proudly above it, was not of that day. There
were itinerant preachers who went from one locality to another, holding
"revival meetings." But church buildings were rare and, to say the
least, not of artistic design. There were no regular means of travel,
and even the "star route" of the post-office department was slow in
reaching those secluded communities.

Into such circumstances and conditions Lincoln was born and grew into



When one becomes interested in a boy, one is almost certain to ask,
Whose son is he? And when we study the character of a great man, it is
natural and right that we should be interested in his family. Where did
he come from? who were his parents? where did they come from? These
questions will engage our attention in this chapter.

But it is well to be on our guard at the outset against the
fascinations of any theory of heredity. Every thoughtful observer knows
something of the seductions of this subject either from experience or
from observation. In every subject of research there is danger of
claiming too much in order to magnify the theory. This is emphatically
true of this theory. Its devotees note the hits but not the misses. "It
took five generations of cultured clergymen to produce an Emerson."
Undoubtedly; but what of the sixth and seventh generations? "Darwin's
greatness came from his father and grandfather." Very true; but are
there no more Darwins?

If Abraham Lincoln got his remarkable character from parents or
grandparents, from whom did he get his physical stature? His father was
a little above medium height, being five feet ten and one-half inches.
His mother was a little less than medium height, being five feet five
inches. Their son was a giant, being no less than six feet four inches.
It is not safe to account too closely for his physical, mental, or
moral greatness by his descent. The fact is that there are too many
unexplored remainders in the factors of heredity to make it possible to
apply the laws definitely.

The writer will therefore give a brief account of the Lincoln family
simply as a matter of interest, and not as a means of proving or
explaining any natural law.

The future president was descended from people of the middle class.
There was nothing either in his family or his surroundings to attract
the attention even of the closest observer, or to indicate any material
difference between him and scores of other boys in the same general

Lincoln is an old English name, and in 1638 a family of the name
settled in Hingham, Mass., near Boston. Many years later we find the
ancestors of the president living in Berks County, Pa. It is possible
that this family came direct from England; but it is probable that they
came from Hingham. Both in Hingham and in Berks County there is a
frequent recurrence of certain scriptural names, such as Abraham,
Mordecai, and Thomas, which seems to be more than a coincidence.

From Berks County certain of the family, who, by the way, were Quakers,
moved to Rockingham County, Va. In 1769 Daniel Boone, the adventurous
pioneer, opened up what is now the state of Kentucky, but was then a
part of Virginia.

About twelve years later, in 1781, Abraham Lincoln, great-grandfather
of the president, emigrated from Virginia into Kentucky. People have
asked, in a puzzled manner, why did he leave the beautiful Shenandoah
valley? One answer may be given: The Ohio valley also is beautiful.
During the major portion of the year, from the budding of the leaves in
April until they pass away in the blaze of their autumn glory, the
entire region is simply bewitching. No hills curve more gracefully, no
atmosphere is more soft, no watercourses are more enticing. Into this
region came the Virginian family, consisting, besides the parents, of
three sons and two daughters.

A year or two later the head of the family was murdered by a skulking
Indian, who proceeded to kidnap the youngest son, Thomas. The oldest
son, Mordecai, quickly obtained a gun and killed the Indian, thus
avenging his father and rescuing his little brother.

This boy Thomas was father of the president. He has been called by some
writers shiftless and densely ignorant. But he seems to have been more
a creature of circumstances. There were no schools, and he,
consequently, did not go to school. There was no steady employment, and
consequently he had no steady employment. It is difficult to see how he
could have done better. He could shoot and keep the family supplied
with wild game. He did odd jobs as opportunity opened and "just

But he had force enough to learn to read and write after his marriage.
He had the roving disposition which is, and always has been, a trait of
pioneers. But this must be interpreted by the fact that he was
optimistic rather than pessimistic. He removed to Indiana because, to
him, Indiana was the most glorious place in the whole world. He later
removed to Illinois because that was more glorious yet.

He certainly showed good taste in the selection of his wives, and what
is equally to the purpose, was able to persuade them to share his
humble lot. He had an unfailing stock of good nature, was expert in
telling a humorous story, was perfectly at home in the woods, a fair
carpenter and a good farmer; and in short was as agreeable a companion
as one would find in a day's journey. He would not have been at home in
a library, but he was at home in the forest.

In 1806 he married Nancy Hanks, a young woman from Virginia, who became
the mother of the president. Doubtless there are many women among the
obscure who are as true and loyal as she was, but whose life is not
brought into publicity. Still, without either comparing or contrasting
her with others, we may attest our admiration of this one as a "woman
nobly planned." In the midst of her household cares, which were neither
few nor light, she had the courage to undertake to teach her husband to
read and write. She also gave her children a start in learning. Of her
the president, nearly half a century after her death, said to Seward,
with tears,--"All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother--
blessings on her memory."

Mr. Lincoln himself never manifested much interest in his genealogy. At
one time he did give out a brief statement concerning his ancestors
because it seemed to be demanded by the exegencies of the campaign. But
at another time, when questioned by Mr. J. L. Scripps, editor of the
Chicago _Tribune_, he answered: "Why, Scripps, it is a great piece of
folly to attempt to make anything out of me or my early life. It can
all be condensed into a single sentence, and that sentence you will
find in Gray's Elegy:

  'The short and simple annals of the poor.'

That's my life, and that's all you or any one else can make out of it."

In all this he was neither proud nor depreciative of his people. He was
simply modest. Nor did he ever outgrow his sympathy with the common



The year 1809 was fruitful in the birth of great men in the Anglo-Saxon
race. In that year were born Charles Darwin, scientist, Alfred
Tennyson, poet, William E. Gladstone, statesman, and, not least,
Abraham Lincoln, liberator.

Thomas Lincoln was left fatherless in early boyhood, and grew up
without any schooling or any definite work. For the most part he did
odd jobs as they were offered. He called himself a carpenter. But in a
day when the outfit of tools numbered only about a half dozen, and when
every man was mainly his own carpenter, this trade could not amount to
much. Employment was unsteady and pay was small.

Thomas Lincoln, after his marriage to Nancy Hanks, lived in
Elizabethtown, Ky., where the first child, Sarah, was born. Shortly
after this event he decided to combine farming with his trade of
carpentering, and so removed to a farm fourteen miles out, situated in
what is now La Rue County, where his wife, on the twelfth day of
February, 1809, gave birth to the son who was named Abraham after his
grandfather. The child was born in a log cabin of a kind very common in
that day and for many years later. It was built four-square and
comprised only one room, one window, and a door.

[Illustration: Lincoln's Boyhood Home in Kentucky.]

Here they lived for a little more than four years, when the father
removed to another farm about fifteen miles further to the northeast.

The occasion of this removal and of the subsequent one, two or three
years later, was undoubtedly the uncertainty of land titles in Kentucky
in that day. This "roving disposition" cannot fairly be charged to
shiftlessness. In spite of the extraordinary disadvantages of Thomas
Lincoln's early life, he lived as well as his neighbors, though that
was humble enough, and accumulated a small amount of property in spite
of the low rate of compensation.

In the year 1816 Thomas determined to migrate to Indiana. He sold out
his farm, receiving for it the equivalent of $300. Of this sum, $20 was
in cash and the rest was in whisky--ten barrels--which passed as a kind
of currency in that day. He then loaded the bulk of his goods upon a
flat boat, floating down the stream called Rolling Fork into Salt
Creek, thence into the Ohio River, in fact, to the bottom of that
river. The watercourse was obstructed with stumps and snags of divers
sorts, and especially with "sawyers," or trees in the river which,
forced by the current, make an up-and-down motion like that of a man
sawing wood.

The flat boat became entangled in these obstructions and was upset, and
the cargo went to the bottom. By dint of great labor much of this was
rescued and the travelers pushed on as far as Thompson's Ferry in Perry
County, Indiana. There the cargo was left in the charge of friends, and
Lincoln returned for his family and the rest of his goods.

During his father's absence, the boy Abe had his first observation of
sorrow. A brother had been born in the cabin and had died in infancy.
The little grave was in the wilderness, and before leaving that country
forever, the mother, leading her six-year-old boy by the hand, paid a
farewell visit to the grave. The child beheld with awe the silent grief
of the mother and carried in his memory that scene to his dying day.

The father returned with glowing accounts of the new home. The family
and the furniture,--to use so dignified a name for such meager
possessions,--were loaded into a wagon or a cart, and they were soon on
the way to their new home.

The traveling was slow, but the weather was fine, the journey
prosperous, and they arrived duly at their destination. They pushed
northward, or back from the river, about eighteen miles into the woods
and settled in Spencer County near to a hamlet named Gentryville. Here
they established their home.

The first thing, of course, was to stake off the land, enter the claim,
and pay the government fee at the United States Land Office at
Vincennes. The amount of land was one quarter section, or one hundred
and sixty acres.

The next thing was to erect a cabin. In this case the cabin consisted
of what was called a half-faced camp. That is, the structure was
entirely open on one of its four sides. This was at the lower side of
the roof, and the opening was partly concealed by the hanging of the
skins of deer and other wild animals. This open face fully supplied all
need of door and window.

The structure was built four square, fourteen feet each way. Posts were
set up at the corners, then the sides were made of poles placed as near
together as possible. The interstices were filled in with chips and
clay, which was called "chinking." The fireplace and chimney were built
at the back and outside. The chief advantage of this style of domicile
is that it provides plenty of fresh air. With one side of the room
entirely open, and with a huge fireplace at the other side, the
sanitary problem of ventilation was solved.

There were no Brussels carpets, no Persian rugs, no hardwood floors.
The bare soil was pounded hard, and that was the floor. There were two
beds inn the two rear corners of the rooms. The corner position saved
both space and labor. Two sides of the bed were composed of parts of
the two walls. At the opposite angle a stake, with a forked top, was
driven into the ground, and from this to the walls were laid two poles
at right angles. This made the frame of the bed. Then "shakes," or
large hand-made shingles, were placed crosswise. Upon these were laid
the ticks filled with feathers or corn husks, and the couch was
complete. Not stylish, but healthful and comfortable.

The produce of his farm was chiefly corn, though a little wheat was
raised for a change of diet. Doubtless there were enough of the staple
vegetables which grow easily in that country. Butcher shops were not
needed, owing to the abundance of wild game.

The principal portion of the life of the average boy concerns his
schooling. As nearly as can be determined the aggregate of young
Lincoln's schooling was about one year, and this was divided between
five teachers--an average of less than three months to each--and spread
out over as many years. The branches taught were "readin', writin', and
cipherin' to the rule of three." Any young man who happened along with
a fair knowledge of the three great R's--"Readin', 'Ritin', and'
Rithmetic"--was thought fit to set up a school, taking his small pay in
cash and boarding around--that is, spending one day or more at a time
as the guest of each of his patrons.

There was nothing of special interest in any of these teachers, but
their names are preserved simply because the fact that they did teach
him is a matter of great interest. The first teacher was Zachariah
Riney, a Roman Catholic, from whose schoolroom the Protestants were
excluded, or excused, during the opening exercises. Then came Caleb
Hazel. These were in Kentucky, and therefore their instruction of
Lincoln must have come to an end by the time he was seven years old.
When ten years old he studied under one Dorsey, when about fourteen
under Crawford, and when sixteen under Swaney.

It can hardly be doubted that his mother's instruction was of more
worth than all these put together. A woman who, under such limitations,
had energy enough to teach her husband to read and write, was a rare
character, and her influence could not be other than invaluable to the
bright boy. Charles Lamb classified all literature in two divisions:
"Books that are not books, and books that are books." It is important
that every boy learn to read. But a far more important question is,
What use does he make of his ability to read? Does he read "books that
are books?" Let us now see what use Lincoln made of his knowledge of

In those days books were rare and his library was small and select. It
consisted at first of three volumes: The Bible, Aesop's Fables and
Pilgrim's Progress. Some-time in the eighties a prominent magazine
published a series of articles written by men of eminence in the
various walks of life, under the title of "Books that have helped me."
The most noticeable fact was that each of these eminent men--men who
had read hundreds of books--specified not more than three or four
books. Lincoln's first list was of three. They were emphatically books.
Day after day he read, pondered and inwardly digested them until they
were his own. Better books he could not have found in all the
universities of Europe, and we begin to understand where he got his
moral vision, his precision of English style, and his shrewd humor.

Later he borrowed from a neighbor, Josiah Crawford, a copy of Weems'
Life of Washington. In lieu of a bookcase he tucked this, one night,
into the chinking of the cabin. A rain-storm came up and soaked the
book through and through. By morning it presented a sorry appearance.
The damage was done and could not be repaired. Crestfallen the lad
carried it back to the owner and, having no money, offered to pay for
the mischief in work. Crawford agreed and named seventy-five cents (in
labor) as a fair sum.

"Does this pay for the book," the borrower asked, "or only for the
damage to the book?" Crawford reckoned that the book "wa'n't of much
account to him nor to any one else." So Lincoln cheerfully did the
work--it was for three days--and owned the book.

Later he had a life of Henry Clay, whom he nearly idolized. His one
poet was Burns, whom he knew by heart "from a to izzard." Throughout
his life he ranked Burns next to Shakespeare.

The hymns which he most loved must have had influence not only on his
religious spirit, but also on his literary taste. Those which are
mentioned are, "Am I a soldier of the cross?" "How tedious and
tasteless the hours," "There is a fountain filled with blood," and
"Alas, and did my Saviour bleed?" Good hymns every one of them, in that
day, or in any day.

Having no slate he did his "sums" in the sand on the ground, or on a
wooden shovel which, after it was covered on both sides, he scraped
down so as to erase the work. A note-book is preserved, containing,
along with examples in arithmetic, this boyish doggerel:

  Abraham Lincoln
  his hand and pen
  he will be good but
  god knows When.

The penmanship bears a striking resemblance to that in later life.

[Illustration: Lincoln's Early Home In Indiana.]

About a year after Thomas Lincoln's family settled in Indiana, they
were followed by some neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow and Dennis Hanks,
a child. To these the Lincolns surrendered their camp and built for
themselves a cabin, which was slightly more pretentious than the first.
It had an attic, and for a stairway there were pegs in the wall up
which an active boy could readily climb. There was a stationary table,
the legs being driven into the ground, some three-legged stools, and a
Dutch oven.

In the year 1818 a mysterious epidemic passed over the region, working
havoc with men and cattle. It was called the "milk-sick." Just what it
was physicians are unable to determine, but it was very destructive.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow were attacked. They were removed, for better
care, to the home of the Lincolns, where they shortly died. By this
time Mrs. Lincoln was down with the same scourge. There was no doctor
to be had, the nearest one being thirty-five miles away. Probably it
made no difference. At all events she soon died and the future
president passed into his first sorrow.

The widowed husband was undertaker. With his own hands he "rived" the
planks, made the coffin, and buried Nancy Hanks, that remarkable woman.
There was no pastor, no funeral service. The grave was marked by a
wooden slab, which, long years after, in 1879, was replaced by a stone
suitably inscribed.

A traveling preacher known as Parson Elkin had occasionally preached in
the neighborhood of the Lincolns in Kentucky. The young boy now put to
use his knowledge of writing. He wrote a letter to the parson inviting
him to come over and preach the funeral sermon. How he contrived to get
the letter to its destination we do not know, but it was done. The
kind-hearted preacher cheerfully consented, though it involved a long
and hard journey. He came at his earliest convenience, which was some
time the next year.

There was no church in which to hold the service. Lincoln never saw a
church building of any description until he was grown. But the
neighbors to the number of about two hundred assembled under the trees,
where the parson delivered the memorial sermon.

Lincoln was nine years old when his mother died, October 5th, 1818. Her
lot was hard, her horizon was narrow, her opportunities were
restricted, her life was one of toil and poverty. All through her life
and after her untimely death, many people would have said that she had
had at best but a poor chance in the world. Surely no one would have
predicted that her name would come to be known and reverenced from
ocean to ocean. But she was faithful, brave, cheerful. She did her duty
lovingly. In later years the nation joined with her son in paying honor
to the memory of this noble, overworked, uncomplaining woman.



The death of his wife had left Thomas Lincoln with the care of three
young children: namely, Sarah, about eleven years old, Abe, ten years
old, and the foster brother, Dennis (Friend) Hanks, a year or two
younger. The father was not able to do woman's work as well as his wife
had been able to do man's work, and the condition of the home was
pitiable indeed. To the three motherless children and the bereaved
father it was a long and dreary winter. When spring came they had the
benefits of life in the woods and fields, and so lived through the
season until the edge of the following winter. It is not to be wondered
at that the father was unwilling to repeat the loneliness of the
preceding year.

Early in December, 1819, he returned to Elizabethtown, Ky., and
proposed marriage to a widow, Mrs. Sally Bush Johnston. The proposal
must have been direct, with few preliminaries or none, for the couple
were married next morning. The new wife brought him a fortune, in
addition to three children of various ages, of sundry articles of
household furniture. Parents, children, and goods were shortly after
loaded into a wagon drawn by a four-horse team, and in all the style of
this frontier four-in-hand, were driven over indescribable roads,
through woods and fields, to their Indiana home.

The accession of Sally Bush's furniture made an important improvement
in the home. What was more important, she had her husband finish the
log cabin by providing window, door, and floor. What was most important
of all, she brought the sweet spirit of an almost ideal motherhood into
the home, giving to all the children alike a generous portion of

The children now numbered six, and not only were they company for one
another, but the craving for womanly affection, which is the most
persistent hunger of the heart of child or man, was beautifully met.
She did not humor them to the point of idleness, but wisely ruled with
strictness without imperiousness. She kept them from bad habits and
retained their affection to the last. The influence upon the growing
lad of two such women as Nancy Hanks and Sally Bush was worth more than
that of the best appointed college in all the land.

The boy grew into youth, and he grew very fast. While still in his
teens he reached the full stature of his manhood, six feet and four
inches. His strength was astonishing, and many stories were told of
this and subsequent periods to illustrate his physical prowess, such
as: he once lifted up a hencoop weighing six hundred pounds and carried
it off bodily; he could lift a full barrel of cider to his mouth and
drink from the bung-hole; he could sink an ax-halve deeper into a log
than any man in the country.

During the period of his growth into youth he spent much of his time in
reading, talking, and, after a fashion, making speeches. He also wrote
some. His political writings won great admiration from his neighbors.
He occasionally wrote satires which, while not refined, were very
stinging. This would not be worth mentioning were it not for the fact
that it shows that from boyhood he knew the force of this formidable
weapon which later he used with so much skill. The country store
furnished the frontier substitute for the club, and there the men were
wont to congregate. It is needless to say that young Lincoln was the
life of the gatherings, being an expert in the telling of a humorous
story and having always a plentiful supply. His speech-making proved so
attractive that his father was forced to forbid him to practise it
during working hours because the men would always leave their work to
listen to him.

During these years he had no regular employment, but did odd jobs
wherever he got a chance. At one time, for example, he worked on a
ferryboat for the munificent wages of thirty-seven and one half cents a

When sixteen years old, Lincoln had his first lesson in oratory. He
attended court at Boonville, county seat of Warwick County and heard a
case in which one of the aristocratic Breckenridges of Kentucky was
attorney for the defense. The power of his oratory was a revelation to
the lad. At its conclusion the awkward, ill-dressed, bashful but
enthusiastic young Lincoln pressed forward to offer his congratulations
and thanks to the eloquent lawyer, who haughtily brushed by him without
accepting the proffered hand. In later years the men met again, this
time in Washington City, in the white house. The president reminded
Breckenridge of the incident which the latter had no desire to recall.

When about nineteen years old, he made his first voyage down the Ohio
and Mississippi rivers. Two incidents are worth recording of this trip.
The purpose was to find, in New Orleans, a market for produce, which
was simply floated down stream on a flat-boat. There was, of course, a
row-boat for tender. The crew consisted of himself and young Gentry,
son of his employer.

Near Baton Rouge they had tied up for the night in accordance with the
custom of flat-boat navigation. During the night they were awakened by
a gang of seven ruffian negroes who had come aboard to loot the stuff.
Lincoln shouted "Who's there?" Receiving no reply he seized a handspike
and knocked over the first, second, third, and fourth in turn, when the
remaining three took to the woods. The two northerners pursued them a
short distance, then returned, loosed their craft and floated safely to
their destination.

It was on this trip that Lincoln earned his first dollar, as he in
after years related to William H. Seward:

"... A steamer was going down the river. We have, you know, no wharves
on the western streams, and the custom was, if passengers were at any
of the landings, they were to go out in a boat, the steamer stopping
and taking them on board.... Two men with trunks came down to the shore
in carriages, and looking at the different boats, singled out mine, and
asked, 'Who owns this?' I modestly answered, 'I do.' 'Will you take us
and our trunks out to the steamer?' 'Certainly.'... The trunks were put
in my boat, the passengers seated themselves on them, and I sculled
them out to the steamer. They got on board, and I lifted the trunks and
put them on the deck. The steamer was about to put on steam again, when
I called out: 'You have forgotten to pay me.' Each of them took from
his pocket a silver half dollar and threw it on the bottom of my boat.
I could scarcely believe my eyes as I picked up the money. You may
think it was a very little thing, and in these days it seems to me like
a trifle, but it was a 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. I was a more hopeful
and thoughtful boy from that time."

The goods were sold profitably at New Orleans and the return trip was
made by steamboat. This was about twenty years after Fulton's first
voyage from New York to Albany, which required seven days. Steamboats
had been put on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, but these crafts were
of primitive construction--awkward as to shape and slow as to speed.
The frequency of boiler explosions was proverbial for many years. The
lads, Gentry and Lincoln, returned home duly and the employer was well
satisfied with the results of the expedition.

In 1830 the epidemic "milk sick" reappeared in Indiana, and Thomas
Lincoln had a pardonable desire to get out of the country. Illinois was
at that time settling up rapidly and there were glowing accounts of its
desirableness. Thomas Lincoln's decision to move on to the new land of
promise was reasonable. He sold out and started with his family and
household goods to his new destination. The time of year was March,
just when the frost is coming out of the ground so that the mud is
apparently bottomless. The author will not attempt to describe it, for
he has in boyhood seen it many times and knows it to be indescribable.
It was Abe's duty to drive the four yoke of oxen, a task which must
have strained even his patience.

They settled in Macon County, near Decatur. There the son faithfully
worked with his father until the family was fairly settled, then
started out in life for himself. For he had now reached the age of
twenty-one. As he had passed through the periods of childhood and
youth, and was on the threshold of manhood, it is right and fitting to
receive at this point the testimony of Sally Bush, his stepmother:

"Abe was a good boy, and I can say what scarcely one woman--a mother--
can say in a thousand: Abe never gave me a cross word or look, and
never refused, in fact or appearance, to do anything I requested him. I
never gave him a cross word in all my life.... He was a dutiful son to
me always. I think he loved me truly. I had a son John who was raised
with Abe. Both were good boys; but I must say, both being now dead,
that Abe was the best boy I ever saw, or expect to see."

These words of praise redound to the honor of the speaker equally with
that of her illustrious stepson.

Lincoln came into the estate of manhood morally clean. He had formed no
habits that would cause years of struggle to overcome, he had committed
no deed that would bring the blush of shame to his cheek, he was as
free from vice as from crime. He was not profane, he had never tasted
liquor, he was no brawler, he never gambled, he was honest and
truthful. On the other hand, he had a genius for making friends, he was
the center of every social circle, he was a good talker and a close
reasoner. Without a thought of the great responsibilities awaiting him,
he had thus far fitted himself well by his faithfulness in such duties
as fell to him.



The first winter in Illinois, 1830-31, was one of those epochal seasons
which come to all communities. It is remembered by "the oldest
inhabitant" to this day for the extraordinary amount of snow that fell.
There is little doing in such a community during any winter; but in
such a winter as that there was practically nothing doing. Lincoln
always held himself ready to accept any opportunity for work, but there
was no opening that winter. The only thing he accomplished was what he
did every winter and every summer of his life: namely, he made many

When spring opened, Denton Offutt decided to send a cargo of
merchandise down to New Orleans. Hearing that Lincoln, John Hanks, and
John Johnston were "likely boys," he employed them to take charge of
the enterprise. Their pay was to be fifty cents a day and "found," and,
if the enterprise proved successful, an additional sum of twenty
dollars. Lincoln said that none of them had ever seen so much money at
one time, and they were glad to accept the offer.

Two events occurred during this trip which are of sufficient interest
to bear narration.

The boat with its cargo had been set afloat in the Sangamon River at
Springfield. All went well until, at New Salem, they came to a mill dam
where, in spite of the fact that the water was high, owing to the
spring floods, the boat stuck. Lincoln rolled his trousers "five feet
more or less" up his long, lank legs, waded out to the boat, and got
the bow over the dam. Then, without waiting to bail the water out, he
bored a hole in the bottom and let it run out. He constructed a machine
which lifted and pushed the boat over the obstruction, and thus their
voyage was quickly resumed. Many years later, when he was a practising
lawyer, he whittled out a model of his invention and had it patented.
The model may to-day be seen in the patent office at Washington. The
patent brought him no fortune, but it is an interesting relic.

This incident is of itself entirely unimportant. It is narrated here
solely because it illustrates one trait of the man--his ingenuity. He
had remarkable fertility in devising ways and means of getting out of
unexpected difficulties. When, in 1860, the Ship of State seemed like
to run aground hopelessly, it was his determination and ingenuity that
averted total wreck. As in his youth he saved the flatboat, so in his
mature years he saved the nation.

The other event was that at New Orleans, where he saw with his own eyes
some of the horrors of slavery. He never could tolerate a moral wrong.
At a time when drinking was almost universal, he was a total abstainer.
Though born in a slave state, he had an earnest and growing repugnance
to slavery. Still, up to this time he had never seen much of its
workings. At this time he saw a slave market--the auctioning off of
human beings.

The details of this auction were so coarse and vile that it is
impossible to defile these pages with an accurate and faithful
description. Lincoln saw it all. He saw a beautiful mulatto girl
exhibited like a race-horse, her "points" dwelt on, one by one, in
order, as the auctioneer said, that "bidders might satisfy themselves
whether the article they were offering to buy was sound or not." One of
his companions justly said slavery ran the iron into him then and
there. His soul was stirred with a righteous indignation. Turning to
the others he exclaimed with a solemn oath: "Boys, if ever I get a
chance to hit that thing [slavery] I'll hit it hard!"

He bided his time. One-third of a century later he had the chance to
hit that thing. He redeemed his oath. He hit it hard.



Upon the arrival of the Lincoln family in Illinois, they had the few
tools which would be considered almost necessary to every frontiersman:
namely, a common ax, broad-ax, hand-saw, whip-saw. The mauls and wedges
were of wood and were made by each workman for himself. To this stock
of tools may also be added a small supply of nails brought from
Indiana, for at that period nails were very expensive and used with the
strictest economy. By means of pegs and other devices people managed to
get along without them.

When Abraham Lincoln went to New Salem it was (like all frontier towns)
a promising place. It grew until it had the enormous population of
about one hundred people, housed--or log-cabined--in fifteen primitive
structures. The tributary country was not very important in a
commercial sense. To this population no less than four general stores--
that is, stores containing nearly everything that would be needed in
that community--offered their wares.

The town flourished, at least it lived, about through the period that
Lincoln dwelt there, after which it disappeared.

Lincoln was ready to take any work that would get him a living. A
neighbor advised him to make use of his great strength in the work of a
blacksmith. He seriously thought of learning the trade, but was,
fortunately for the country, diverted from doing so.

The success of the expedition to New Orleans had won the admiration of
his employer, Denton Offutt, and he now offered Lincoln a clerkship in
his prospective store. The offer was accepted partly because it gave
him some time to read, and it was here that he came to know the two
great poets, Burns and Shakespeare.

Offutt's admiration of the young clerk did him credit, but his voluble
expression of it was not judicious. He bragged that Lincoln was smart
enough to be president, and that he could run faster, jump higher,
throw farther, and "wrastle" better than any man in the country. In the
neighborhood there was a gang of rowdies, kind at heart but very rough,
known as "the Clary's Grove boys." They took the boasting of Offutt as
a direct challenge to themselves and eagerly accepted it. So they put
up a giant by the name of Jack Armstrong as their champion and arranged
a "wrastling" match. All went indifferently for a while until Lincoln
seemed to be getting the better of his antagonist, when the "boys"
crowded in and interfered while Armstrong attempted a foul. Instantly
Lincoln was furious. Putting forth all his strength he lifted Jack up
and shook him as a terrier shakes a rat. The crowd, in their turn,
became angry and set out to mob him. He backed up against a wall and in
hot indignation awaited the onset. Armstrong was the first to recover
his good sense. Exclaiming, "Boys, Abe Lincoln's the best fellow that
ever broke into the settlement," he held out his hand to Lincoln who
received it with perfect good nature. From that day these boys never
lost their admiration for him. He was their hero. From that day, too,
he became the permanent umpire, the general peacemaker of the region.
His good nature, his self-command, and his manifest fairness placed his
decisions beyond question. His popularity was established once for all
in the entire community.

There are some, anecdotes connected with his work in the store which
are worth preserving because they illustrate traits of his character.
He once sold a half pound of tea to a customer. The next morning as he
was tidying up the store he saw, by the weights which remained in the
scales, that he had inadvertently given her four, instead of eight,
ounces. He instantly weighed out the balance and carried it to her, not
waiting for his breakfast.

At another time when he counted up his cash at night he discovered that
he had charged a customer an excess of six and a quarter cents. He
closed up the store at once and walked to the home of the customer, and
returned the money. It was such things as these, in little matters as
well as great, that gave him the nickname of "honest Abe" which, to his
honor be it said, clung to him through life.

One incident illustrates his chivalry. While he was waiting upon some
women, a ruffian came into the store using vulgar language. Lincoln
asked him to desist, but he became more abusive than ever. After the
women had gone, Lincoln took him out of the store, threw him on the
ground, rubbed smartweed in his face and eyes until he howled for
mercy, and then he gave him a lecture which did him more practical good
than a volume of Chesterfield's letters.

Some time after Offutt's store had "winked out," while Lincoln was
looking for employment there came a chance to buy one half interest in
a store, the other half being owned by an idle, dissolute fellow named
Berry who ultimately drank himself into his grave. Later, another
opening came in the following way: the store of one Radford had been
wrecked by the horse-play of some ruffians, and the lot was bought by
Mr. Greene for four hundred dollars. He employed Lincoln to make an
invoice of the goods and he in turn offered Greene two hundred and
fifty dollars for the bargain and the offer was accepted. But even that
was not the last investment. The fourth and only remaining store in the
hamlet was owned by one Rutledge. This also was bought out by the firm
of Berry & Lincoln. Thus they came to have the monopoly of the
mercantile business in the hamlet of New Salem.

Be it known that in all these transactions not a dollar in money
changed hands. Men bought with promissory notes and sold for the same
consideration. The mercantile venture was not successful. Berry was
drinking and loafing, and Lincoln, who did not work as faithfully for
himself as for another, was usually reading or telling stories. So when
a couple of strangers, Trent by name, offered to buy out the store, the
offer was accepted and more promissory notes changed hands. About the
time these last notes came due, the Trent brothers disappeared between
two days. Then Berry died.

The outcome of the whole series of transactions was that Lincoln was
left with an assortment of promissory notes bearing the names of the
Herndons, Radford, Greene, Rutledge, Berry, and the Trents. With one
exception, which will be duly narrated, his creditors told him to pay
when he was able. He promised to put all of his earnings, in excess of
modest living expenses, into the payment of these obligations. It was
the burden of many years and he always called it "the national debt."
But he kept his word, paying both principal and the high rate of
interest until 1848, or after fifteen years, when a member of congress,
he paid the last cent. He was still "honest Abe." This narrative ranks
the backwoodsman with Sir Walter Scott and Mark Twain, though no
dinners were tendered to him and no glowing eulogies were published
from ocean to ocean.

His only further experience in navigation was the piloting of a
Cincinnati steamboat, the _Talisman_, up the Sangamon River (during the
high water in spring time) to show that that stream was navigable.
Nothing came of it however, and Springfield was never made "the head of

It was in the midst of the mercantile experiences above narrated that
the Black Hawk war broke out. Black Hawk was chief of the Sac Indians,
who, with some neighboring tribes, felt themselves wronged by the
whites. Some of them accordingly put on the paint, raised the whoop,
and entered the warpath in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
The governor called for soldiers, and Lincoln volunteered with the

The election of captain of the company was according to an original
method. The two candidates were placed a short distance apart and the
men were invited to line up with one or the other according to their
preference. When this had been done it was seen that Lincoln had about
three quarters of the men. This testimony to his popularity was
gratifying. After he became president of the United States he declared
that no success that ever came to him gave him so much solid

Lincoln saw almost nothing of the war. His only casualty came after its
close. He had been mustered out and his horse was stolen so that he was
compelled to walk most of the way home. After the expiration of his
term of enlistment he reenlisted as a private. As he saw no fighting
the war was to him almost literally a picnic. But in 1848, when he was
in congress, the friends of General Cass were trying to make political
capital out of his alleged military services. This brought from Lincoln
a speech which showed that he had not lost the power of satire which he
possessed while a lad in Indiana.

"Did you know, Mr. Speaker, I am a military hero? In the days of the
Black Hawk war I fought, bled, and--came away. I was not at Stillman's
defeat, but I was about as near it as General Cass was to Hull's
surrender; and, like him, I saw the place very soon afterwards. It is
quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break, but I
bent my musket pretty bad on one occasion. 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."

In 1833 Lincoln was appointed postmaster at New Salem. To him the chief
advantage of this position was the fact that it gave him the means of
reading the papers. The principal one of these was the Louisville
_Journal_, an exceedingly able paper, for it was in charge of
George D. Prentice, one of the ablest editors this country has ever
produced. The duties of the post-office were few because the mail was
light. The occasional letters which came were usually carried around by
the postmaster in his hat. When one asked for his mail, he would
gravely remove his hat and search through the package of letters.

This office was discontinued in a short time, but no agent of the
government came to close up the accounts. Years afterwards, when
Lincoln was in Springfield, the officer suddenly appeared and demanded
the balance due to the United States, the amount being seventeen
dollars and a few cents. A friend who was by, knowing that Lincoln was
short of funds, in order to save him from embarrassment, offered to
lend him the needful sum. "Hold on a minute and let's see how we come
out," said he. He went to his room and returned with an old rag
containing money. This he counted out, being the exact sum to a cent.
It was all in small denominations of silver and copper, just as it had
been received. In all his emergencies of need he had never touched this
small fund which he held in trust. To him it was sacred. He was still
"honest Abe."

In the early thirties, when the state of Illinois was being settled
with great rapidity, the demand for surveyors was greater than the
supply. John Calhoun, surveyor for the government, was in urgent need
of a deputy, and Lincoln was named as a man likely to be able to fit
himself for the duties on short notice. He was appointed. He borrowed
the necessary book and went to work in dead earnest to learn the
science. Day and night he studied until his friends, noticing the
wearing effect on his health, became alarmed. But by the end of six
weeks, an almost incredibly brief period of time, he was ready for

It is certain that his outfit was of the simplest description, and
there is a tradition that at first, instead of a surveyor's chain he
used a long, straight, wild-grape vine. Those who understand the
conditions and requirements of surveying in early days say that this is
not improbable. A more important fact is that Lincoln's surveys have
never been called in question, which is something that can be said of
few frontier surveyors. Though he learned the science in so short a
time, yet here, as always, he was thorough.

It was said in the earlier part of this chapter that to the holders of
Lincoln's notes who consented to await his ability to pay, there was
one exception. One man, when his note fell due, seized horse and
instruments, and put a temporary stop to his surveying. But a neighbor
bought these in and returned them to Lincoln. He never forgot the
kindness of this man, James Short by name, and thirty years later
appointed him Indian agent.

At this point may be mentioned an occurrence which took place a year or
two later. It was his first romance of love, his engagement to a
beautiful girl, Ann Rutledge, and his bereavement. Her untimely death
nearly unsettled his mind. He was afflicted with melancholy to such a
degree that his friends dared not leave him alone. For years afterwards
the thought of her would shake his whole frame with emotion, and he
would sit with his face buried in his hands while the tears trickled
through. A friend once begged him to try to forget his sorrow. "I
cannot," he said; "the thought of the rain and snow on her grave fills
me with indescribable grief."

Somehow, we know not how, the poem "Oh, why should the spirit of mortal
be proud?" was in his mind connected with Ann Rutledge. Possibly it may
have been a favorite with her. There was certainly some association,
and through his whole life he was fond of it and often repeated it. Nor
did he forget her. It was late in life that he said: "I really and
truly loved the girl and think often of her now." Then, after a pause,
"And I have loved the name of Rutledge to this day."

This bereavement took much from Lincoln. Did it give him nothing?
Patience, earnestness, tenderness, sympathy--these are sometimes the
gifts which are sent by the messenger Sorrow. We are justified in
believing that this sad event was one of the means of ripening the
character of this great man, and that to it was due a measure of his
usefulness in his mature years.



Lincoln's duties at New Salem, as clerk, storekeeper, and postmaster,
had resulted in an intimate acquaintance with the people of that
general locality. His duties as surveyor took him into the outlying
districts. His social instincts won for him friends wherever he was
known, while his sterling character gave him an influence unusual, both
in kind and in measure, for a young man of his years. He had always
possessed an interest in public, even national, questions, and his
fondness for debate and speech-making increased this interest. Moreover
he had lived month by month going from one job to another, and had not
yet found his permanent calling.

When this combination of facts is recalled, it is a foregone conclusion
that he would sooner or later enter politics. This he did at the age of
twenty-three, in 1832.

According to the custom of the day he announced in the spring his
candidacy. After this was done the Black Hawk war called him off the
ground and he did not get back until about ten days before the
election, so that he had almost no time to attend to the canvass. One
incident of this campaign is preserved which is interesting, partly
because it concerns the first known speech Lincoln ever made in his own
behalf, and chiefly because it was an exhibition of his character.

He was speaking at a place called Cappsville when two men in the
audience got into a scuffle.

Lincoln proceeded in his speech until it became evident that his friend
was getting the worst of the scuffle, when he descended from the
platform, seized the antagonist and threw him ten or twelve feet away
on the ground, and then remounted the platform and took up his speech
where he had left off without a break in the logic.

The methods of electioneering are given by Miss Tarbell in the
following words:

"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. If the degree
of physical strength was the test for a candidate, he was ready to lift
a weight, or wrestle with the 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" (I. 109).

The ten days devoted to the canvass were not enough, and he was
defeated. The vote against him was chiefly in the outlying region where
he was little known. It must have been gratifying to him that in his
own precinct, where he was so well known, he received the almost
unanimous vote of all parties. Biographers differ as to the precise
number of votes in the New Salem precinct, but by Nicolay and Hay it is
given as 277 for, and three against. Of this election Lincoln himself
(speaking in the third person) said: "This was the only time Abraham
was ever defeated on the direct vote of the people."

His next political experience was a candidacy for the legislature 1834.
At this time, as before, he announced his own candidacy. But not as
before, he at this time made a diligent canvass of the district. When
the election came off he was not only successful but he ran ahead of
his ticket. He usually did run ahead of his ticket excepting when
running for the presidency, and then it was from the nature of the case
impossible. Though Lincoln probably did not realize it, this, his first
election, put an end forever to his drifting, desultory, frontier life.
Up to this point he was always looking for a job. From this time on he
was not passing from one thing to another. In this country politics and
law are closely allied. This two-fold pursuit, politics, for the sake
of law, and law for the sake of politics, constituted Lincoln's
vocation for the rest of his life.

The capital of Illinois was Vandalia, a village said to be named after
the Vandals by innocent citizens who were pleased with the euphony of
the word hut did not know who the Vandals were. Outwardly the village
was crude and forbidding, and many of the Solons were attired in coon-
skin caps and other startling apparel. The fashionable clothing, the
one which came to be generally adopted as men grew to be "genteel," was
blue jeans. Even "store clothes," as they came to be called, were as
yet comparatively unknown.

But one must not be misled by appearances in a frontier town. The
frontier life has a marvelous influence in developing brains. It is as
hard for some people in the centers of culture to believe in the
possible intelligence of the frontier, as it was in 1776 for the
cultured Englishmen to believe in the intelligence of the colonial
patriots. In that collection of men at Vandalia were more than a few
who afterwards came to have national influence and reputation.

Apart from Lincoln himself, the most prominent member of the
legislature was his lifelong antagonist, Stephen A. Douglas. Whatever
may be said of this man's political principles, there can be no
question as to the shrewdness of his political methods. It is the
opinion of the present writer that in the entire history of our
political system no man has ever surpassed him in astuteness. Even to-
day all parties are using the methods which he either devised or
introduced. The trouble with him was that he was on the wrong side. He
did not count sufficiently on the conscience of the nation.

Lincoln was re-elected to the legislature as often as he was willing to
be a candidate, and served continuously for eight years. One session is
much like another, and in this eight years of legislative experience
only two prominent facts will be narrated. One was the removal of the
capital to Springfield. To Lincoln was entrusted the difficult task--
difficult, because there were almost as many applications for the honor
of being the capital city as there were towns and villages in the
central part of the state. He was entirely successful, and
thenceforward he was inseparably connected with Springfield. It was his
home as long as he lived, and there his remains were buried.

The prophetic event of his legislative work was what is known as the
Lincoln-Stone protest. This looks to-day so harmless that it is not
easy to understand the situation in 1837. The pro-slavery feeling was
running high, an abolitionist was looked on as a monster and a menace
to national law and order. It was in that year that the Reverend Elijah
P. Lovejoy was murdered--martyred--at Alton, Ill. The legislature had
passed pro-slavery resolutions. There were many in the legislature who
did not approve of these, but in the condition of public feeling, it
was looked on as political suicide to express opposition openly. There
was no politic reason why Lincoln should protest. His protest could do
no practical good. To him it was solely a matter of conscience. Slavery
was wrong, the resolutions were wrong, and to him it became necessary
to enter the protest. He succeeded in getting but one man to join him,
and he did so because he was about to withdraw from politics and
therefore had nothing to lose. Here is the document as it was spread on
the journal:

"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 above
resolutions is their reason for entering this protest."


  "Representatives from the county of Sangamon."

In 1836 Lincoln made an electioneering speech which was fortunately
heard by Joshua Speed, and he has given an account of it. Be it
remembered that at that time lightning rods were rare and attracted an
unreasonable amount of attention. One Forquer, who was Lincoln's
opponent, had recently rodded his house--and every one knew it. This
man's speech consisted partly in ridiculing his opponent, his bigness,
his awkwardness, his dress, his youth. Lincoln heard him through
without interruption and then took the stand and said:

"The gentleman commenced his speech by saying that this young man would
have to be taken down, and he was sorry the task devolved upon him. I
am not so young in years as I am in the tricks and trades of a
politician; but live long or die young, I would rather die now than,
like the gentleman, change my politics and simultaneous with the change
receive an office worth three thousand dollars a year, and then have to
erect a lightning-rod over my house to protect a guilty conscience from
an offended God."

It need hardly be said that that speech clung to its victim like a
burr. Wherever he went, some one would be found to tell about the
guilty conscience and the lightning-rod. The house and its lightning-
rod were long a center of interest in Springfield. Visitors to the city
were taken to see the house and its lightning-rod, while the story was
told with great relish.

Having served eight terms in the legislature, Lincoln in 1842 aspired
to congress. He was, however, defeated at the primary. His neighbors
added insult to injury by making him one of the delegates to the
convention and instructing him to vote for his successful rival, Baker.
This did not interrupt the friendship which united the two for many
years, lasting, indeed, until the death of Colonel Baker on the field
of battle.

In 1846 he renewed his candidacy, and this time with flattering
success. His opponent was a traveling preacher, Peter Cartwright, who
was widely known in the state and had not a little persuasive power. In
this contest Cartwright's "arguments" were two: the first, that Lincoln
was an atheist, and the second that he was an aristocrat. These
"arguments" were not convincing, and Lincoln was elected by a handsome
majority, running far ahead of his ticket. This was, at the time, the
height of his ambition, yet he wrote to Mr. Speed: "Being elected to
congress, though I am grateful to our friends for having done it, has
not pleased me as much as I expected."

His one term in congress was uneventful. Twice his humor bubbled over.
Once was when he satirized the claims that Cass was a military hero, in
the speech already mentioned. The other time was his introducing the
resolutions known as the "spot resolutions." The president had sent to
congress an inflammatory, buncombe message, in which he insisted that
the war had been begun by Mexico, "by invading our territory and
shedding the blood of our citizens on our own soil." The resolutions
requested from the president the information:

"_First_. Whether the spot on which the blood of our citizens was shed,
as in his messages declared, was or was not within the territory of
Spain, at least after the treaty of 1819, until the Mexican

"_Second_. Whether that spot is or is not within the territory which
was wrested from Spain by the revolutionary government of Mexico."

"_Third_. Whether the spot is or is not, etc., etc. It is the
recurrence of the word _spot_ which gave the name to the resolutions."

Lincoln had now served eight years in the legislature and one term in
congress. He had a good understanding of politics. He was never a time-
server, and he had done nothing unwise. He knew how to win votes and he
knew what to do with himself when the votes were won. He held the
confidence of his constituency. His was a constantly growing
popularity. He could do everything but one,--he could not dishonor his
conscience. His belief that "slavery was founded on injustice" was the
only reason for his protest. He never hesitated to protest against
injustice. The Golden Rule had a place in practical politics. The
Sermon on the Mount was not an iridescent dream.



In treating of this topic, it will be necessary to recall certain
things already mentioned. One characteristic which distinguished
Lincoln all through his life was thoroughness. When he was President a
man called on him for a certain favor, and, when asked to state his
case, made a great mess of it, for he had not sufficiently prepared
himself. Then the President gave him some free advice. "What you need
is to be thorough," and he brought his hand down on the table with the
crash of a maul,--"to be thorough." It was his own method. After a
successful practise of twenty years he advised a young law student:
"Work, work, work is the main thing." He spoke out of his own

There is one remarkable passage in his life which is worth repeating
here, since it gives an insight into the thoroughness of this man. The
following is quoted from the Rev. J. P. Gulliver, then pastor of the
Congregational church in Norwich, Conn. It was a part of a conversation
which took place shortly after the Cooper Institute speech in 1860, and
was printed in _The Independent_ for September 1, 1864.

"Oh, yes! 'I read law,' as the phrase is; that is, I became a lawyer's
clerk in Springfield, and copied tedious documents, and picked up what
I could of law in the intervals of other work. But your question
reminds me of a bit of education I had, which I am bound in honesty to

"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 said to myself, What do I do
when I _demonstrate_ more than when I _reason_ or _prove_? How does
_demonstration_ differ from any other proof? I consulted Webster's
Dictionary. They told of 'certain proof,' 'proof beyond the possibility
of doubt'; but I could form no idea of what sort of proof that was. I
thought a great many things were proved beyond the possibility of
doubt, without recourse to any such extraordinary process of reasoning
as I understood _demonstration_ to be. 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 never can 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 till I could give any
proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then found out what
_demonstrate_ means, and went back to my law studies."

Was there ever a more thorough student?

          *          *          *          *          *

He, like every one else, had his library within the library. Though he
read everything he could lay his hands on, yet there are five books to
be mentioned specifically, because from childhood they furnished his
intellectual nutriment. These were the Bible, Aesop's Fables and
Pilgrim's Progress, Burns, and Shakespeare. These were his mental
food. They entered into the very substance of his thought and
imagination. "Fear the man of one book." Lincoln had five books, and
so thoroughly were they his that he was truly formidable. These did
not exclude other reading and study; they made it a thousand times
more fruitful. And yet people ask, where did Lincoln get the majesty,
the classic simplicity and elegance of his Gettysburg address? The
answer is here.

While Lincoln was postmaster, he was a diligent reader of the
newspapers, of which the chief was the Louisville _Journal_. It was
edited by George D. Prentice, who was, and is, second to no other
editor in the entire history of American journalism. The ability of
this man to express his thoughts with such power was a mystery to this
reader. The editor's mastery of language aroused in Lincoln a burning
desire to obtain command of the English tongue. He applied for counsel
to a friend, a schoolmaster by the name of Mentor Graham. Graham
recommended him to study English grammar, and told him that a copy of
one was owned by a man who lived six miles away. Lincoln walked to the
house, borrowed the book--"collared" it, as he expressed it--and at the
end of six days had mastered it with his own thoroughness.

The first law book he read was "The Statutes of Indiana." This was when
he was a lad living in that state, and he read the book, not for any
special desire to know the subject but, because he was in the habit of
reading all that came into his hands.

His next book was Blackstone's "Commentaries." The accidental way
in which he gained possession of, and read, this book is of sufficient
interest to narrate in his own words. It was shortly after he got into
the grocery business:

"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, the more intensely interested I became. Never in my whole
life was my mind so thoroughly absorbed. I read until I devoured them."

All this may have been fatal to the prosperity of the leading store in
that hamlet of fifteen log cabins, but it led to something better than
the success of the most magnificent store in New York.

It was in 1834 that Lincoln was first elected to the legislature.
During the canvass he was brought into the company of Major John T.
Stuart, whom he had met in the Black Hawk war. Stuart advised him to
enter definitely on the study of the law. He decided to do this. This
proved to be quite the most important thing that occurred to him that

Stuart further offered to lend him the necessary books. This offer was
gladly accepted, and having no means of travel, he walked to and from
Springfield, a distance of twenty miles, to get the books and return
them. During this tramp he was able to read forty pages of the volume.
Thus he read, and we may venture to say mastered, Chitty, Greenleaf,
and Story, in addition to Blackstone before mentioned. It was the best
foundation that could have been laid for a great lawyer.

During this reading he was getting his bread and butter by the other
employments--store-keeping, postmaster, and surveyor. These may not
have interfered greatly with the study of the law, but the study of the
law certainly interfered with the first of these. He read much out of
doors. He would lie on his back in the shade of some tree, with his
feet resting part way up the tree, then follow the shadow around from
west to east, grinding around with the progress of the sun. When in the
house his attitude was to cock his feet high in a chair, thus "sitting
on his shoulder blades," to use a common expression. When in his office
he would throw himself on the lounge with his feet high on a chair.
These attitudes, bringing his feet up to, and sometimes above, the
level with his head, have been characteristic of American students time
out of mind. He never outgrew the tendency. Even when President and
sitting with his Cabinet, his feet always found some lofty perch.

While he was not reading, he was pondering or memorizing. Thus he took
long walks, talking to himself incessantly, until some of his neighbors
thought he was going crazy.

He was admitted to the bar in 1837. At that date there was no lawyer
nearer to New Salem than those in Springfield, which was twenty miles
off. Consequently he had a little amateur practise from his neighbors.
He was sometimes appealed to for the purpose of drawing up agreements
and other papers. He had no office, and if he chanced to be out of
doors would call for writing-materials, a slab of wood for a desk, draw
up the paper, and then resume his study.

This same year he became a partner of Stuart, in Springfield. The
latter wanted to get into politics, and it was essential that he
should, have a trustworthy partner. So the firm of Stuart and Lincoln
was established in 1837 and lived for four years. In 1841 he entered
into partnership with Logan, and this also lasted about four years. In
the year 1845 was established the firm of Lincoln and Herndon, which
continued until the assassination of the president in 1865.

After a brief period Lincoln himself got deeper into politics, this
period culminating with the term in congress. In this he necessarily
neglected the law more or less. But late in 1848, or early in 1849, he
returned to the law with renewed vigor and zeal, giving it his
undivided attention for six years. It was the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise that called him back into the arena of politics. This will
be narrated later.

His partnership with Stuart of course necessitated his removal to
Springfield. This event, small in itself, gives such a pathetic picture
of his poverty, and his cheerful endurance, that it is well worth
narrating. It is preserved by Joshua F. Speed, who became, and through
life continued, Lincoln's fast friend. The story is given in Speed's

"He had ridden into town on a borrowed horse, with no earthly property
save a pair of saddlebags containing a few clothes. I was a merchant at
Springfield, and kept a large country store, embracing dry-goods,
groceries, hardware, books, medicines, bed-clothes, mattresses--in
fact, everything that the country needed. Lincoln said he wanted to buy
the furniture for a single bed. The mattress, blankets, sheets,
coverlet, and pillow, according to the figures made by me, would cost
seventeen dollars. He said that perhaps was cheap enough; but small as
the price was, he was unable to pay it. [Note that at this time he was
carrying the debts of the merchants of New Salem. THE AUTHOR.] But if I
would credit him until Christmas, and his experiment as a lawyer was a
success, he would pay then; saying in the saddest tone, 'If I fail in
this, I do not know that I ever can pay you.' As I looked up at him I
thought then, and I think now, that I never saw a sadder face.

I said to him: 'You seem to be so much pained at contracting so small a
debt, I think I can suggest a plan by which you can avoid the debt, and
at the same time attain your end. I have a large room with a double bed
up-stairs, which you are very welcome to share with me.'

'Where is your room?' said he.

'Up-stairs,' said I, pointing to a pair of winding-stairs, which led
from the store to my room.

He took his saddle-bags on his arm, went upstairs, set them on the
floor, and came down with the most changed expression of countenance.
Beaming with pleasure, he exclaimed:

'Well, Speed, I am moved!'"

Thus he became established in the profession of the law and a resident
of Springfield. It was not a large city, but it was a very active one,
though small, and was the capital of the state. Lincoln was there
favorably known, because he had been chiefly instrumental in getting
the capital moved to that place from Vandalia. His first law partner
was very helpful to him, and he had abundant reason all his life to be
thankful also for the friendship of Joshua F. Speed.



The requirements of the lawyer in that part of the country, at that
date, were different from the requirements in any part of the world at
the present date. The Hon. Joseph H. Choate, in a lecture at Edinburgh,
November 13, 1900, said: "My professional brethren will ask me how
could this rough backwoodsman ... become a learned and accomplished
lawyer? Well, he never did. He never would have earned his salt as a
writer for the 'Signet,' nor have won a place as advocate in the Court
of Session, where the teachings of the profession has reached its
highest perfection, and centuries of learning and precedent are
involved in the equipment of a lawyer."

The only means we have of knowing what Lincoln could do is knowing what
he did. If his biography teaches anything, it teaches that he never
failed to meet the exigencies of any occasion. The study of his life
will reveal this fact with increasing emphasis. Many a professional
brother looked on Lincoln as "this rough backwoodsman," unable to
"become a learned and accomplished lawyer," to his own utter
discomfiture. We are justified in saying that if he had undertaken the
duties of the Scots writer to the "Signet," he would have done them
well, as he did every other duty.

When Douglas was congratulated in advance upon the ease with which he
would vanquish his opponent, he replied that he would rather meet any
man in the country in that joint debate than Abraham Lincoln. At
another time he said: "Lincoln is one of those peculiar men who perform
with admirable skill whatever they undertake."

Lincoln's professional duties were in the Eighth Judicial Circuit,
which then comprised fifteen counties. Some of these counties have
since been subdivided, so that the territory of that district was
larger than would be indicated by the same number of counties to-day.
It was one hundred and fifty miles long and nearly as wide. There were
few railroads, and the best county roads were extremely poor, so that
traveling was burdensome. The court and the lawyers traveled from one
county seat to another, sometimes horseback, sometimes in buggies or
wagons, and sometimes afoot. The duties of one county being concluded,
the entire company would move on to another county. Thus only a small
part of his duties were transacted at Springfield.

These periodic sessions of the court were of general interest to the
communities in which they were held. There were no theaters, no lyceums
for music or lectures, and few other assemblages of any sort, excepting
the churches and the agricultural fairs. It thus came about that the
court was the center of a greater interest than would now be possible.
It was the rostrum of the lecturer and the arena of the debate. Nor
were comedies lacking in its multifarious proceedings. The attorney was
therefore sure of a general audience, as well as of court and jury.

This peripatetic practise threw the lawyers much into one another's
company. There were long evenings to be spent in the country taverns,
when sociability was above par. Lincoln's inexhaustible fund of wit and
humor, and his matchless array of stories, made him the life of the
company. In this number there were many lawyers of real ability. The
judge was David Davis, whose culture and legal ability will hardly be
questioned by any one. Judge Davis was almost ludicrously fond of
Lincoln. He kept him in his room evenings and was very impatient if
Lincoln's talk was interrupted.

There were two qualities in Lincoln's anecdotes: their resistless fun,
and their appropriateness. When Lincoln came into court it was usually
with a new story, and as he would tell it in low tones the lawyers
would crowd about him to the neglect of everything else, and to the
great annoyance of the judge. He once called out: "Mr. Lincoln, we
can't hold two courts, one up here and one down there. Either yours or
mine must adjourn."

Once Lincoln came into the room late, leaned over the clerk's desk and
whispered to him a little story. Thereupon the clerk threw back his
head and laughed aloud. The judge thundered out, "Mr. Clerk, you may
fine yourself five dollars for contempt of court." The clerk quietly
replied, "I don't care; the story's worth it." After adjournment the
judge asked him, "What was that story of Lincoln's?" When it was
repeated the judge threw back his head and laughed, and added, "You may
remit the fine."

A stranger, hearing the fame of Lincoln's stories, attended court and
afterward said, "The stories are good, but I can't see that they help
the case any." An admiring neighbor replied with more zeal and justice
than elegance, "Don't you apply that unction to your soul." The
neighbor was right. Lincoln had not in vain spent the days and nights
of his boyhood and youth with Aesop. His stories were as luminous of
the point under consideration as were the stories which explained that
"this fable teaches."

Judge Davis wrote of him that "he was able to claim the attention of
court and jury when the cause was most uninteresting by the
_appropriateness_ of his anecdotes." Those who have tried to claim
Judge Davis' attention when he did not want to give it, will realize
the greatness of praise implied in this concession.

To this may be joined the remark of Leonard Swett, that "any man who
took Lincoln for a simple-minded man would wake up with his back in the

As Lincoln would never adopt the methods of his partner Herndon, the
latter could not quite grasp the essential greatness of the former, and
he uses some patronizing words. We may again quote Judge Davis: "In all
the elements that constitute a great lawyer he had few equals ... He
seized the strong points of a cause and presented them with clearness
and great compactness.... Generalities and platitudes had no charms for
him. An unfailing vein of humor never deserted him." Then follows the
passage already quoted.

Lincoln never could bring himself to charge large fees. Lamon was his
limited partner (with the office in Danville and Bloomington) for many
years. He tells one instance which will illustrate this trait. There
was a case of importance for which the fee was fixed in advance at
$250, a very moderate fee under the circumstances. It so happened that
the case was not contested and the business required only a short time.
The client cheerfully paid the fee as agreed. As he went away Lincoln
asked his partner how much he charged. He replied, "$250." "Lamon," he
said, "that is all wrong. Give him back at least half of it." Lamon
protested that it was according to agreement and the client was
satisfied. "That may be, but _I_ am not satisfied. This is positively
wrong. Go, call him back and return him half the money at least, or I
will not receive one cent of it for my share."

One may imagine the amazement of the client to receive back one half of
the fee. But the matter did not end here. The affair had attracted the
attention of those near at hand, including the court. Judge Davis was
of enormous physical size, and his voice was like a fog horn. The
author writes this from vivid remembrance. Once in early youth he
quaked in his shoes at the blast of that voice. The conclusion of the
incident is given in the words of Lamon: "The judge never could
whisper, but in this case he probably did his best. At all events, in
attempting to whisper to Mr. Lincoln he trumpeted his rebuke in about
these words, and in rasping tones that could be heard all over the
court room: 'Lincoln, I have been watching you and Lamon. You are
impoverishing this bar by your picayune charges of fees, and the
lawyers have reason to complain of you. You are now almost as poor as
Lazarus, and if you don't make people pay you more for your services,
you will die as poor as Job's turkey."

The event justified the Judge's remarks. It was not unusual for
Lincoln's name, as attorney, to be found on one side or the other of
every case on the docket. In other words, his practise was as large as
that of any lawyer on the circuit, and he had his full proportion of
important cases. But he never accumulated a large sum of money.
Probably no other successful lawyer in that region had a smaller
income. This is a convincing commentary on his charges.

The largest fee he ever received was from the Illinois Central
Railroad. The case was tried at Bloomington before the supreme court
and was won for the road. Lincoln went to Chicago and presented a bill
for $2,000 at the offices of the company. "Why," said the official, in
real or feigned astonishment, "this is as much as a first-class lawyer
would have charged."

Lincoln was greatly depressed by this rebuff, and would have let the
matter drop then and there had not his neighbors heard of it. They
persuaded him to raise the fee to $5,000, and six leading lawyers of
the state testified that that sum was a moderate charge. Lincoln sued
the road for the larger amount and won his case. It is a matter of
interest that at that time the vice-president of the railroad was
George B. McClellan.

It was Lincoln's habit always to go to the heart of a case. Quibbles
did not interest him. The non-professional public who have attended
jury trials will not easily forget the monotonous "I object" of the
attorneys, usually followed by, "I except to the ruling of the court,"
and "The clerk will note the exception." Lincoln generally met the
objections by the placid remark, "I reckon that's so." Thus he gave up
point after point, apparently giving away his case over and over again,
until his associates were brought to the verge of nervous prostration.
After giving away six points he would fasten upon the seventh, which
was the pivotal point of the case, and would handle that so as to win.
This ought to have been satisfactory, but neither Herndon nor his other
associates ever got used to it.

Lincoln put his conscience into his legal practise to a greater degree
than is common with lawyers. He held (with Blackstone) that law is for
the purpose of securing justice, and he would never make use of any
technicality for the purpose of thwarting justice. When others
maneuvered, he met them by a straightforward dealing. He never did or
could take an unfair advantage. On the wrong side of a case, he was
worse than useless to his client, and he knew it. He would never take
such a case if it could be avoided. His partner Herndon tells how he
gave some free and unprofessional advice to one who offered him such a
case: "Yes, there is no reasonable doubt but that I can gain your case
for you. I can set a whole neighborhood at loggerheads; I can distress
a widowed mother and her six fatherless children, and thereby get for
you six hundred dollars, which rightfully belongs, it appears to me, as
much to them as it does to you. I shall not take your case, but will
give a little advice for nothing. You seem a sprightly, energetic man.
I would advise you to try your hand at making six hundred dollars in
some other way."

Sometimes, after having entered on a case, he discovered that his
clients had imposed on him. In his indignation he has even left the
court room. Once when the Judge sent for him he refused to return.
"Tell the judge my hands are dirty; I came over to wash them."

The most important law-suit in which Lincoln was ever engaged was the
McCormick case. McCormick instituted a suit against one Manny for
alleged infringement of patents. McCormick virtually claimed the
monopoly of the manufacture of harvesting machines. The suit involved a
large sum of money besides incidental considerations. The leading
attorney for the plaintiff was the Hon. Reverdy Johnson, one of the
foremost, if not the foremost, at the bar in the entire country. It was
the opportunity of crossing swords with Johnson that, more than
anything else, stirred Lincoln's interest. With him, for the defense,
was associated Edwin M. Stanton.

The case was to be tried at Cincinnati, and all parties were on hand.
Lincoln gave an extraordinary amount of care in the preparation of the
case. But some little things occurred. Through an open doorway he heard
Stanton make some scornful remarks of him,--ridiculing his awkward
appearance and his dress, particularly, for Lincoln wore a linen
duster, soiled and disfigured by perspiration. When the time came for
apportioning the speeches, Lincoln, although he was thoroughly prepared
and by the customs of the bar it was his right to make the argument,
courteously offered the opportunity to Stanton, who promptly accepted.
It was a great disappointment to Lincoln to miss thus the opportunity
of arguing with Reverdy Johnson. Neither did Stanton know what he
missed. Nor did Johnson know what a narrow escape he had.

This chapter will not be complete without making mention of Lincoln's
professional kindness to the poor and unfortunate. Those who could find
no other friends were sure to find a friend in Lincoln. He would freely
give his services to the needy. At that time the negro found it hard to
get help, friendship, justice. Though Illinois was a free state, public
opinion was such that any one who undertook the cause of the negro was
sure to alienate friends. Lincoln was one of the few who never
hesitated at the sacrifice.

A young man, a free negro living in the neighborhood, had been employed
as cabin boy on a Mississippi river steamboat. Arriving at New Orleans,
he went ashore without a suspicion of what the law was in a slave
state. He was arrested for being on the street after dark without a
pass, thrown into jail, and fined. Having no money to pay the fine, he
was liable to be sold into slavery, when his mother, in her distress,
came to Lincoln for help. Lincoln sent to the governor to see if there
was no way by which this free negro could be brought home. The governor
was sorry that there was not. In a towering wrath Lincoln exclaimed:
"I'll have that negro back soon, or I'll have a twenty years'
excitement in Illinois until the governor does have a legal and
constitutional right to do something in the premises!"

He had both. He and his partner sent to New Orleans the necessary money
by which the boy was released and restored to his mother. The twenty
years' excitement came later.



Springfield was largely settled by people born and educated in older
and more cultured communities. From the first it developed a social
life of its own. In the years on both sides of 1840, it maintained as
large an amount of such social activity as was possible in a new
frontier city. In this life Lincoln was an important factor. The public
interest in the man made this necessary, even apart from considerations
of his own personal preferences.

We have seen that he was extremely sociable in his tastes. He was fond
of being among men. Wherever men were gathered, there Lincoln went, and
wherever Lincoln was, men gathered about him. In the intervals of work,
at nooning or in the evening, he was always the center of an interested
group, and his unparalleled flow of humor, wit, and good nature was the
life of the assemblage. This had always been so from childhood. It had
become a second nature with him to entertain the crowd, while the crowd
came to look upon him as their predestined entertainer.

But Lincoln had been brought up in the open air, on the very frontier,
"far from the madding crowd." His social experience and his tastes were
with men, not ladies. He was not used to the luxuries of civilization,
--elegant carpets, fine china, fashionable dress. Though he had great
dignity and nobility of soul, he did not have that polish of manners
which counts for so much with ladies. His ungainly physique accented
this lack. He was not, he never could be, what is known as a ladies'
man. While his friendly nature responded to all sociability, he was not
fond of ladies' society. He was naturally in great demand, and he
attended all the social gatherings. But when there, he drifted away
from the company of the ladies into that of the men. Nor were the men
loath to gather about him.

The ladies liked him, but one of them doubtless spoke the truth, when
she declared that their grievance against him was that he monopolized
the attention of the men. This was natural to him, it had been
confirmed by years of habit, and by the time he was thirty years old it
was practically impossible for him to adopt the ways acceptable to

Into this society in Springfield came a pretty, bright, educated,
cultured young lady--Miss Mary Todd. She was of an aristocratic family
from Kentucky. It is said that she could trace the family genealogy
back many centuries. She may have been haughty--she was said to be so--
and she may have been exacting in those little matters which make up so
large a measure of what is known as polish of manners. These would be
precisely the demands which Lincoln was unable to meet.

It was a foregone conclusion that the two would be thrown much into
each other's society, and that the neighbors would connect them in
thought. For Lincoln was the most popular man and Miss Todd was the
most popular young lady in Springfield. It was simply another case of
the attraction of opposites, for in everything except their popularity
they were as unlike as they could be.

It is proverbial that the course of true love never did run smooth. If
there were ripples and eddies and counter-currents in the course of
this love, it was in nowise exceptional. It is only the prominence of
the parties that has brought this into the strong light of publicity.

Much has been written that is both unwarranted and unkind. Even the
most confidential friends do not realize the limitations of their
knowledge on a matter so intimate. When they say they know all about
it, they are grievously mistaken. No love story (outside of novels) is
ever told truly. In the first place, the parties themselves do not tell
all. They may say they do, but there are some things which neither man
nor woman ever tells. In the heart of love there is a Holy of Holies
into which the most intimate friend is not allowed to look.

And in the second place, even the lovers do not see things alike. If
both really understood, there could be no _mis_understanding. It
is, then, presumptive for even the confidants, and much more for the
general public, to claim to know too much of a lovers' quarrel.

We would gladly pass over this event were it not that certain salient
facts are a matter of public record. It is certain that Lincoln became
engaged to Miss Todd in the year 1840. It is certain that he broke the
engagement on January 1, 1841. It is certain that about that time he
had a horrible attack of melancholy. And we have seen that he never
outgrew his attachment to his early love, Ann Rutledge. Whether this
melancholy was the cause of his breaking the engagement, or was caused
by it, we cannot say. Whether the memory of Ann Rutledge had any
influence in the matter, we do not know.

Whatever the mental cause of this melancholy, there is no doubt that it
had also a physical cause. This was his most violent attack, but by no
means his only one. It recurred, with greater or less severity, all
through his life. He had been born and had grown up in a climate noted
for its malaria. Excepting for the facts that he spent much time in the
open air, had abundant exercise, and ate plain food, the laws of
sanitation were not thought of. It would be strange if his system were
not full of malaria, or, what is only slightly less abominable, of the
medicines used to counteract it. In either case he would be subject to
depression. An unfortunate occurrence in a love affair, coming at the
time of an attack of melancholy, would doubtless bear abundant and
bitter fruit.

Certain it is that the engagement was broken, not a little to the
chagrin of both parties. But a kind neighbor, Mrs. Francis, whose
husband was editor of the Springfield _Journal_, interposed with her
friendly offices. She invited the two lovers to her house, and they
went, each without the knowledge that the other was to be there. Their
social converse was thus renewed, and, in the company of a third
person, Miss Jayne, they continued to meet at frequent intervals. Among
the admirers of Miss Todd were two young men who came to be widely
known. These were Douglas and Shields. With the latter only we are
concerned now. He was a red-headed little Irishman, with a peppery
temper, the whole being set off with an inordinate vanity. He must have
had genuine ability in some directions, or else he was wonderfully
lucky, for he was an officeholder of some kind or other, in different
states of the Union, nearly all his life. It is doubtful if another
person can be named who held as many different offices as he; certainly
no other man has ever represented so many different states in the

At this particular time, Shields was auditor of the state of Illinois.
The finances of the state were in a shocking condition. The state banks
were not a success, and the currency was nearly worthless. At the same
time, it was the only money current, and it was the money of the state.
These being the circumstances, the governor, auditor, and treasurer,
issued a circular forbidding the payment of state taxes in this paper
currency of the state. This was clearly an outrage upon the taxpayers.

Against this Lincoln protested. Not by serious argument, but by the
merciless satire which he knew so well how to use upon occasion. Under
the pseudonym of Aunt Rebecca, he wrote a letter to the Springfield
_Journal_. The letter was written in the style of Josh Billings,
and purported to come from a widow residing in the "Lost Townships." It
was an attempt to laugh down the unjust measure, and in pursuance of
this the writer plied Shields with ridicule. The town was convulsed
with laughter, and Shields with fury. The wrath of the little Irishman
was funnier than the letter, and the joy of the neighbors increased.

Miss Todd and Miss Jayne entered into the spirit of the fun. Then they
wrote a letter in which Aunt Rebecca proposed to soothe his injured
feelings by accepting Shields as her husband. This was followed by a
doggerel rhyme celebrating the event.

Shields' fury knew no bounds. He went to Francis, the editor of the
_Journal_, and demanded the name of the author of the letters.
Francis consulted with Lincoln. The latter was unwilling to permit any
odium to fall on the ladies, and sent word to Shields that he would
hold himself responsible for those letters.

If Shields had not been precisely the kind of a man he was, the matter
might have been explained and settled amicably. But no, he must have
blood. He sent an insulting and peremptory challenge. When Lincoln
became convinced that a duel was necessary, he exercised his right, as
the challenged party, of choosing the weapons. He selected "broadswords
of the largest size." This was another triumph of humor. The midget of
an Irishman was to be pitted against the giant of six feet four inches,
who possessed the strength of a Hercules, and the weapons were--
"broadswords of the largest size."

The bloody party repaired to Alton, and thence to an island or sand-bar
on the Missouri side of the river. There a reconciliation was effected,
honor was satisfied all around, and they returned home in good spirits.
For some reason Lincoln was always ashamed of this farce. Why, we do
not know. It may have been because he was drawn into a situation in
which there was a possibility of his shedding human blood. And he who
was too tender-hearted to shoot wild game could not make light of that

The engagement between Lincoln and Miss Todd was renewed, and they were
quietly married at the home of the bride's sister, Mrs. Edwards,
November 4th, 1842. Lincoln made a loyal, true, indulgent husband. Mrs.
Lincoln made a home that was hospitable, cultured, unostentatious. They
lived together until the death of the husband, more than twenty-two
years later.

They had four children, all boys. Only the eldest, Robert Todd Lincoln,
grew to manhood. He has had a career which is, to say the least,
creditable to the name he bears. For a few months at the close of the
war he was on the staff of General Grant. He was Secretary of War
under Garfield and retained the office through the administration of
Arthur. Under President Harrison, from 1889 to 1893, he was minister to
England. He is a lawyer by profession, residing in Chicago--the city
that loved his father--and at the present writing is president of the
Pullman Company. In every position he has occupied he has exercised a
notably wide influence.



It is necessary at this point to take a glance at the history of
American slavery, in order to understand Lincoln's career. In 1619, or
one year before the landing of the _Mayflower_ at Plymouth, a Dutch
man-of-war landed a cargo of slaves at Jamestown, Virginia. For nearly
two centuries after this the slave trade was more or less brisk. The
slaves were distributed, though unevenly, over all the colonies. But as
time passed, differences appeared. In the North, the public conscience
was awake to the injustice of the institution, while in the South it
was not. There were many exceptions in both localities, but the public
sentiment, the general feeling, was as stated.

There was another difference. Slave labor was more valuable in the
South than in the North. This was due to the climate. The negro does
not take kindly to the rigors of the North, while in the South the
heat, which is excessive to the white man, is precisely suited to the
negro. In the course of years, therefore, there came to be
comparatively few negroes in the North while large numbers were found
in the South.

It is generally conceded that the founders of our government looked
forward to a gradual extinction of slavery. In the first draft of the
Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson inserted some scathing
remarks about the King's part in the slave traffic. But it was felt
that such remarks would come with ill grace from colonies that abetted
slavery, and the passage was stricken out. It was, however, provided
that the slave trade should cease in the year 1808.

The Ordinance of 1787 recognized the difference in sentiment of the two
portions of the country on the subject, and was enacted as a
compromise. Like several subsequent enactments, it was supposed to set
the agitation of the subject for ever at rest. This ordinance provided
that slavery should be excluded from the northwestern territory. At
that time the Mississippi river formed the western boundary of the
country, and the territory thus ordained to be free was that out of
which the five states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and
Wisconsin were subsequently formed. It was not then dreamed that the
future acquisition of new territory, or the sudden appreciation of the
value of the slave, would reopen the question.

But three facts changed the entire complexion of the subject. It was
discovered that the soil and climate of the South were remarkably well
adapted to the growth of cotton. Then the development of steam power
and machinery in the manufacture of cotton goods created a sudden and
enormous demand from Liverpool, Manchester, and other cities in England
for American cotton. There remained an obstacle to the supply of this
demand. This was the difficulty of separating the cotton fiber from the
seed. A negro woman was able to clean about a pound of cotton in a day.

In 1793, Eli Whitney, a graduate of Yale college, was teaching school
in Georgia, and boarding with the widow of General Greene. Certain
planters were complaining, in the hearing of Mrs. Greene, of the
difficulty of cleaning cotton, when she declared that the Yankee school
teacher could solve the difficulty, that he was so ingenious that there
was almost nothing he could not do.

The matter was brought to Whitney's attention, who protested that he
knew nothing of the subject,--he hardly knew a cotton seed when he saw
it. Nevertheless he set to work and invented the cotton gin. By this
machine one man, turning a crank; could clean fifty pounds of cotton a
day. The effect of this was to put a new face upon the cotton trade. It
enabled the planters to meet the rapidly-increasing demand for raw

It had an equal influence on the slavery question. Only negroes can
work successfully in the cotton fields. There was a phenomenal increase
in the demand for negro labor. And this was fifteen years before the
time limit of the slave trade in 1808.

There soon came to be a decided jealousy between the slave-holding and
the non-slave-holding portion of the country which continually
increased. At the time of the Ordinance of 1787 the two parts of the
country, were about evenly balanced. Each section kept a vigilant watch
of the other section so as to avoid losing the balance of power.

As the country enlarged, this balance was preserved by the admission of
free and slave states in turn. Vermont was paired with Kentucky;
Tennessee with Ohio; Louisiana with Indiana; and Mississippi with
Illinois. In 1836, Michigan and Arkansas were admitted on the same day.
on the same day. This indicates that the jealousy of the two parties
was growing more acute.

Then Texas was admitted December 29, 1845, and was not balanced until
the admission of Wisconsin in 1848.

We must now go back to the admission of Missouri. It came into the
Union as a slave state, but by what is known as the Missouri Compromise
of 1820. By this compromise the concession of slavery to Missouri was
offset by the enactment that all slavery should be forever excluded
from the territory west of that state and north of its southern
boundary: namely, the parallel of 36 degrees 30'.

The mutterings of the conflict were heard at the time of the admission
of Texas in 1848. It was again "set forever at rest" by what was known
as the Wilmot proviso. A year or two later, the discovery of gold in
California and the acquisition of New Mexico reopened the whole
question. Henry Clay of Kentucky, a slaveholder but opposed to the
extension of slavery, was then a member of the House. By a series of
compromises--he had a brilliant talent for compromise--he once more set
the whole question "forever at rest." This rest lasted for four years.
But in 1852 Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe published "Uncle Tom's Cabin,"
an event of national importance. To a degree unprecedented, it roused
the conscience of those who were opposed to slavery and inflamed the
wrath of those who favored it.

The sudden and rude awakening from this rest came in 1854 with the
repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The overland travel to California
after the year 1848 had given to the intervening territory an
importance far in excess of its actual population. It early became
desirable to admit into the Union both Kansas and Nebraska; and the
question arose whether slavery should be excluded according to the act
of 1820. The slave-holding residents of Missouri were hostile to the
exclusion of slavery. It was situated just beyond their border, and
there is no wonder that they were unable to see any good reason why
they could not settle there with their slaves. They had the sympathy of
the slave states generally.

On the other hand, the free states were bitterly opposed to extending
the slave power. To them it seemed that the slaveholders were planning
for a vast empire of slavery, an empire which should include not only
the southern half of the United States, but also Mexico, Central
America, and possibly a portion of South America. The advocates of
slavery certainly presented and maintained an imperious and despotic
temper. Feeling was running high on both sides in the early fifties.

A leading cyclopedia concludes a brief article on the Missouri
Compromise with the parenthetical reference,--"see DOUGLAS, STEPHEN A."
The implication contained in these words is fully warranted. The chief
event in the life of Douglas is the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.
And the history of the Missouri Compromise cannot be written without
giving large place to the activity of Douglas. His previous utterances
had not led observers, however watchful, to suspect this. In the
compromise of 1850 he had spoken with great emphasis: "In taking leave
of this subject, I wish to state that I have determined never to make
another speech upon the slavery question.... We claim that the
compromise is a final settlement.... Those who preach peace should not
be the first to commence and reopen an old quarrel."

This was the man who four years later recommenced and reopened this old
quarrel of slavery. In the meantime something had occurred. In 1852 he
had been the unsuccessful candidate for the democratic nomination for
President, and he had aspirations for the nomination in 1856, when a
nomination would have been equivalent to an election. It thus seemed
politic for him to make some decided move which would secure to him the
loyalty of the slave power.

Upon Stephen A. Douglas rested the responsibility of the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise. He was at that time chairman of the Senate
committee on Territories. His personal friend and political manager for
Illinois, William A. Richardson, held a similar position in the House.
The control of the legislation upon this subject was then absolutely in
the hands of Senator Douglas, the man who had "determined never to make
another speech on the slavery question."

It is not within the scope of this book to go into the details of this
iniquitous plot, for plot it was. But the following passage may be
quoted as exhibiting the method of the bill: "It being the true intent
and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any territory or
state, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof
perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in
their own way, subject only to the Constitution." In other words, no
state or territory could be surely safe from the intrusion of slavery.

Lincoln had been practising law and had been out of politics for six
years. It was this bill which called him back to politics, "like a
fire-bell in the night."



The repeal of the Missouri Compromise caused great excitement
throughout the land. The conscience of the anti-slavery portion of the
community was shocked, as was also that of the large numbers of people
who, though not opposed to slavery in itself, were opposed to its
extension. It showed that this institution had a deadening effect upon
the moral nature of the people who cherished it. There was no
compromise so generous that it would satisfy their greed, there were no
promises so solemn that they could be depended on to keep them. They
were not content with maintaining slavery in their own territory. It
was not enough that they should be allowed to take slaves into a
territory consecrated to freedom, nor that all the powers of the law
were devoted to recapturing a runaway slave and returning him to
renewed horrors. They wanted all the territories which they had
promised to let alone. It was a logical, and an altogether probable
conclusion that they only waited for the opportunity to invade the
northern states and turn them from free-soil into slave territory.

The indignation over this outrage not only flamed from thousands of
pulpits, but newspapers and political clubs of all kinds took up the
subject on one side or the other. Every moralist became a politician,
and every politician discussed the moral bearings of his tenets.

In no locality was this excitement more intense than in Illinois. There
were special reasons for this. It is a very long state, stretching
nearly five hundred miles from north to south. Now, it is a general law
among Americans that migration follows very nearly the parallels of
latitude from East to West. For this reason the northern portion of the
state was mostly settled by northern people whose sympathies were
against slavery; while the southern portion of the state was mostly
settled by southern people, whose sympathies were in favor of slavery.
The state was nearly evenly divided, and the presence of these two
parties kept up a continual friction and intensified the feeling on
both sides.

To this general condition must be added the fact that Illinois was the
home of Douglas, who was personally and almost solely responsible for
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. In that state he had risen from
obscurity to be the most conspicuous man in the United States. His
party had a decided majority in the state, and over it he had absolute
control. He was their idol. Imperious by nature, shrewd, unscrupulous,
a debater of marvelous skill, a master of assemblies, a man who knew
not the meaning of the word fail--this was Douglas. But his home was in
Chicago, a city in which the anti-slavery sentiment predominated.

When Douglas returned to his state, _his_ in more than one sense, it
was not as a conquering hero. He did not return direct from Washington,
but delayed, visiting various portions of the country. Possibly this
was due to the urgency of business, probably it was in order to give
time for the excitement to wear itself out. But this did not result,
and his approach was the occasion of a fresh outbreak of feeling in
Chicago; the demonstrations of the residents of that city were not a
flattering welcome home. Bells were tolled as for public mourning,
flags were hung at half mast. Nothing was omitted that might emphasize
the general aversion to the man who had done that infamous deed.

A public meeting was planned, at which he was to speak in defense of
his course. A large crowd, about five thousand people, gathered.
Douglas was surrounded by his own friends, but the major portion of the
crowd was intensely hostile to him. When he began to speak the
opposition broke out. He was interrupted by questions and comments.
These so exasperated him that he completely lost control of himself. He
stormed, he shook his fist, he railed. The meeting broke up in
confusion. Then came a reaction which greatly profited him. The papers
published that he had attempted to speak and had not been allowed to do
so, but had been hooted by a turbulent mob. All of which was true. By
the time he spoke again the sympathy of the public had swung to his
side, and he was sure of a favorable hearing.

This second speech was on the occasion of the state fair at
Springfield. Men of all kinds and of every political complexion were
present from even the remotest localities in the state. The speech was
to be an address to a large audience fairly representative of the
entire state.

Lincoln was there. Not merely because Springfield was his home. He
doubtless would have been there anyhow. His ability as a politician,
his growing fame as a lawyer and a public speaker, his well-known
antipathy to slavery, singled him out as the one man who was
preeminently fitted to answer the speech of Douglas, and he was by a
tacit agreement selected for this purpose.

Lincoln himself felt the stirring impulse. It is not uncommon for the
call of duty, or opportunity, to come once in a lifetime to the heart
of a man with over-mastering power, so that his purposes and powers are
roused to an unwonted and transforming degree of activity. It is the
flight of the eaglet, the awakening of the lion, the transfiguration of
the human spirit. To Lincoln this call now came. He was the same man,
but he had reached another stage of development, entered a new
experience, exhibiting new powers,--or the old powers to such a degree
that they were virtually new. It is the purpose of this chapter to note
three of his speeches which attest this awakening.

The first of these was delivered at the state Fair at Springfield.
Douglas had spoken October 3d, 1854. Lincoln was present, and it was
mentioned by Douglas, and was by all understood, that he would reply
the following day, October 4th. Douglas was, up to that time, not only
the shrewdest politician in the country, but he was acknowledged to be
the ablest debater. He was particularly well prepared upon this
subject, for to it he had given almost his entire time for nearly a
year, and had discussed it in congress and out, and knew thoroughly the
current objections. The occasion was unusual, and this was to be, and
doubtless it was, his greatest effort.

The following day came Lincoln's reply. As a matter of fairness, he
said at the outset that he did not want to present anything but the
truth. If he said anything that was not true, he would be glad to have
Douglas correct him at once. Douglas, with customary shrewdness, took
advantage of this offer by making frequent interruptions, so as to
break the effect of the logic and destroy the flow of thought. Finally
Lincoln's patience was exhausted, and he paused in his argument to say:
"Gentlemen, I cannot afford to spend my time in quibbles. I take the
responsibility of asserting the truth myself, relieving Judge Douglas
from the necessity of his impertinent corrections." This silenced his
opponent, and he spoke without further interruption to the end, his
speech being three hours and ten minutes long.

The effect of the speech was wonderful. The scene, as described next
day in the Springfield _Journal_, is worth quoting:

"Lincoln quivered with feeling and emotion. The whole house was as
still as death. He attacked the bill with unusual warmth and energy,
and all felt that a man of strength was its enemy, and that he meant to
blast it if he could by strong and manly efforts. He was most
successful; and the house approved the glorious triumph of truth by
loud and long-continued huzzas.... Mr. Lincoln exhibited Douglas in all
the attitudes he could be placed in a friendly debate. He exhibited
the bill in all its aspects to show its humbuggery and falsehoods, and
when thus torn to rags, cut into slips, held up to the gaze of the vast
crowd, a kind of scorn was visible upon the face of the crowd, and upon
the lips of the most eloquent speaker.... At the conclusion of the
speech, every man felt that it was unanswerable--that no human power
could overthrow it or trample it under foot. The long and repeated
applause evinced the feelings of the crowd, and gave token, too, of the
universal assent to Lincoln's whole argument; and every mind present
did homage to the man who took captive the heart and broke like a sun
over the understanding."

The speech itself, and the manner of its reception, could not other
than rouse Douglas to a tempest of wrath. It was a far more severe
punishment than to be hooted from the stage, as he had been in Chicago.
He was handled as he had never been handled in his life. He took the
platform, angrily claimed that he had been abused, and started to
reply. But he did not get far. He had no case. He became confused, lost
his self-control, hesitated, finally said that he would reply in the
evening, and left the stage. That was the end of the incident so far as
Douglas was concerned. When the evening came he had disappeared, and
there was no reply.

Twelve days later, on October 16, Lincoln had promised to speak in
Peoria. To that place Douglas followed, or preceded him. Douglas made
his speech in the afternoon, and Lincoln followed in the evening. It
was the same line of argument as in the other speech. Lincoln later
consented to write it out for publication. We thus have the Springfield
and Peoria speech, _minus_ the glow of extemporaneous address, the
inspiration of the orator. These are important factors which not even
the man himself could reproduce. But we have his own report, which is
therefore authentic. The most salient point in his speech is his reply
to Douglas's plausible representation that the people of any locality
were competent to govern themselves. "I admit," said Lincoln, "that the
emigrant to Kansas and Nebraska is competent to govern himself, but I
deny his right to govern any other person without that other person's
consent." This is the kernel of the entire question of human slavery.

The result of this speech at Peoria was less dramatic than that at
Springfield, but it was no less instructive. Douglas secured from
Lincoln an agreement that neither of them should again speak during
that campaign. It was quite evident that he had learned to fear his
antagonist and did not wish again to risk meeting him on the rostrum.
Lincoln kept the agreement. Douglas did not. Before he got home in
Chicago, he stopped off to make another speech.

These speeches were made in 1854. It is now worth while to skip over
two years to record another epoch-making speech, one which in spirit
and temper belongs here. For it shows to what intensity Lincoln was
aroused on this vast and ever-encroaching subject of slavery. This was
at the convention which was held in Bloomington for the purpose of
organizing the Republican party. The date of the convention was May 29,
1856. The center of interest was Lincoln's speech. The reporters were
there in sufficient force, and we would surely have had a verbatim
report--except for one thing. The reporters did not report. Let Joseph
Medill, of the Chicago _Tribune_, tell why:

"It was my journalistic duty, though a delegate to the convention, to
make a 'long-hand' report of the speeches delivered for the Chicago
_Tribune_. 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, and joined with
the convention in cheering and stamping and clapping to the end of his

I well remember that after Lincoln had sat down and calm had succeeded
the tempest, I waked out of a sort of hypnotic trance, and then thought
of my report for the _Tribune_. There was nothing written but an
abbreviated introduction.

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."

Mr. Herndon, who was Lincoln's law partner, and who knew him so
intimately that he might be trusted to keep his coolness during the
enthusiasm of the hour, and who had the mechanical habit of taking
notes for him, because he was his partner, said: "I attempted for about
fifteen minutes, as was usual with me then, to take notes, but at the
end of that time I threw pen and paper away and lived only in the
inspiration of the hour."

There is no doubt that the audience was generally, if not unanimously,
affected in the same way. The hearers went home and told about this
wonderful speech. Journalists wrote flaming editorials about it. The
fame of it went everywhere, but there was no report of it. It therefore
came to be known as "Lincoln's lost speech."

Precisely forty years afterwards one H. C. Whitney published in one of
the magazines an account of it. He says that he made notes of the
speech, went home and wrote them out. Why he withheld this report from
the public for so many years, especially in view of the general demand
for it, does not precisely appear. The report, however, is interesting.

But after the lapse of nearly half a century, it is a matter of minor
importance whether Mr. Whitney's report be accurate or not. To us the
value of the three speeches mentioned in this chapter is found largely
in the impression they produced upon the hearers. The three taken
together show that Lincoln had waked to a new life. The lion in him was
thoroughly roused, he was clothed with a tremendous power, which up to
this point had not been suspected by antagonists nor dreamed of by
admiring friends. This new and mighty power he held and wielded until
his life's end. Thenceforth he was an important factor in national



Lincoln's intimate friends have noted that he seemed to be under the
impression that he was a man of destiny. This phrase was a favorite
with Napoleon, who often used it of himself. But the two men were so
widely different in character and career, that it is with reluctance
that one joins their names even for the moment that this phrase is
used. Napoleon was eager to sacrifice the whole of Europe to satisfy
the claims of his personal ambition; Lincoln was always ready to stand
aside and sacrifice himself for the country. The one was selfishness
incarnate; the other was a noble example of a man who never hesitated
to subordinate his own welfare to the general good, and whose career
came to its climax in his martyrdom. Whether the presidency was or was
not, Lincoln's destiny, it was certainly his destination. Had anything
occurred to thrust him one side in this career, it would have prevented
his complete development, and would have been an irreparable calamity
to his country and to the world.

Twice in his life he earnestly desired certain offices and failed to
get them. Had he succeeded in either case, it is not at all probable
that he would ever have become President. One therefore rejoices in the
knowledge that he missed them.

After his term in congress he was, in a measure, out of employment.
Political life is like to destroy one's taste for the legitimate
practise of the law, as well as to scatter one's clients. Lincoln was
not a candidate for reelection. Upon the election of General Taylor it
was generally understood that the democrats would be turned out of
office and their places supplied by whigs. The office of Land
Commissioner was expected to go to Illinois. At the solicitation of
friends he applied for it, but so fearful was he that he might stand in
the way of others, or impede the welfare of the state, that he did not
urge his application until too late. The President offered him the
governorship of the territory of Oregon, which he declined. Had he been
successful in his application, it would have kept him permanently out
of the study and practise of the law. It would have kept his residence
in Washington so that it would not have been possible for him to hold
himself in touch with his neighbors. So far as concerned his
illustrious career, it would have side-tracked him. He himself
recognized this later, and was glad that he had failed in this, his
first and only application for a government appointment.

About six years later he again missed an office to which he aspired.
This was in 1854, the year of the speeches at Springfield and Peoria
described in the last chapter. Shields, the man of the duel with broad-
swords, was United States senator. His term of office was about to
expire and the legislature would elect his successor. The state of
Illinois had been democratic,--both the senators, Shields and Douglas,
were democrats,--but owing to the new phases of the slavery question,
the anti-slavery men were able to carry the legislature, though by a
narrow margin.

Lincoln had been very useful to the party during the campaign and had
been elected to the legislature from his own district. He wanted to be
senator. He was unquestionably the choice of nearly all the whigs. Had
an election taken place then, he would undoubtedly have been elected.

But a curious obstacle intervened. There was a provision in the
constitution of Illinois which disqualified members of the legislature
from holding the office of United States senator. Lincoln was therefore
not eligible. He could only become so by resigning his seat. There
appeared to be no risk in this, for he had a safe majority of 605. It
seemed as though he could name his successor. But there are many
uncertainties in politics.

The campaign had been one of unusual excitement and it was followed by
that apathy which is the common sequel to all excessive activity. The
democrats kept quiet. They put up no candidate. They fostered the
impression that they would take no part in the special election. Only
one democrat was casually named as a possible victim to be sacrificed
to the triumph of the whigs. He was not a popular nor an able man, and
was not to be feared as a candidate for this office.

But the unusual quietness of the democrats was the most dangerous sign.
They had organized a "still hunt." This was an adroit move, but it was
perfectly fair. It is not difficult to guess whose shrewdness planned
this, seeing that the question was vital to the career of Douglas. The
democratic party preserved their organization. The trusted lieutenants
held the rank and file in readiness for action. When the polls were
opened on election day, the democrats were there, and the whigs were
not. At every election precinct appeared democratic workers to
electioneer for the man of their choice. Carriages were provided for
the aged, the infirm, and the indifferent who were driven to the polls
so that their votes were saved to the party.

The whigs were completely taken by surprise. It was too late to talk up
their candidate. They had no provision and no time to get the absent
and indifferent to the polls. The result was disastrous to them.
Lincoln's "safe" majority was wiped out and a Douglas democrat was
chosen to succeed him.

It may be surmised that this did not tend to fill the whigs with
enthusiasm, nor to unite the party. From all over the state there arose
grumblings that the Sangamon contingent of the party had been so
ignobly outwitted. Lincoln had to bear the brunt of this discontent.
This was not unnatural nor unreasonable, for he was the party manager
for that district. When the legislature went into joint session Lincoln
had manifestly lost some of his prestige. It may be said by way of
palliation that the "still hunt" was then new in politics. And it was
the only time that Lincoln was caught napping.

Even with the loss to the whigs of this seat, the Douglas democrats
were in a minority. Lincoln had a plurality but not a majority. The
balance of power was held by five anti-Nebraska democrats, who would
not under any circumstances vote for Lincoln or any other whig. Their
candidate was Lyman Trumbull. After a long and weary deadlock, the
democrats dropped their candidate Shields and took up the governor of
the state. The governor has presumably a strong influence with the
legislature, and this move of the partisans was a real menace to the
anti-slavery men. Lincoln recognized the danger, at once withdrew his
candidacy, and persuaded all the anti-slavery men to unite on Trumbull.
This was no ordinary conciliation, for upon every subject except the
Nebraska question alone, Trumbull was an uncompromising democrat. The
whig votes gave him the necessary majority. The man who started in with
five votes won the prize. Lincoln not only failed to get into the
senate, but he was out of the legislature.

In commenting on this defeat of Lincoln for the United States senate,
the present writer wishes first of all to disavow all superstitions and
all belief in signs. But there is one fact which is worthy of mention,
and for which different persons will propose different explanations. It
is a fact that in all the history of the United States no person has
been elected direct from the senate to the presidency. This is the more
interesting because the prominent senator wields a very powerful
influence, an influence second only to that of the President himself.
When one considers the power of a leading senator, one would suppose
that that was the natural stepping-stone to the presidency. But history
does not support this supposition. It teaches the opposite.

Many prominent senators have greatly desired to be president, but no
one has succeeded unless he first retired from the senate. Among the
more widely known aspirants to the presidency who have been
unsuccessful, are Jackson (his first candidacy), Clay, Webster,
Douglas, Morton, Seward, Sherman, and Blaine. So many failures may be a
mere coincidence. On the other hand there may be a reason for them.
They seem to teach that the senate is not the best start for the
presidential race, but the worst.

The history of ethics teaches that the most determined hostility
against the best is the good, not the bad. So it may be that in the
politics of this country, the greatest obstacle to the highest position
may be the next highest.

These facts, of course, do not prove that if Lincoln had been elected
senator in 1854, or in 1858 when he was the opposing candidate to
Douglas, he would therefore have failed of election to the presidency.
He may have been an exception. He may have been the only one to break
this rule in over a hundred years. But the sequel proved that he was
best where he was. He remained among his people. He moused about the
state library, enduring criticism but mastering the history of slavery.
He kept a watchful eye on the progress of events. He was always alert
to seize an opportunity and proclaim in trumpet tones the voice of
conscience, the demands of eternal righteousness. But he waited. His
hour had not yet come. He bided his time. It was not a listless
waiting, it was intensely earnest and active. Far more than he could
realize, he was in training for the stupendous responsibilities which
should in due time fall upon him. It is fortunate for all that he did
not learn to limit his powers to the arena of the senate, which, though
great, is limited. He kept near to the people. When his hour struck, he
was ready.

For this reason we call his two failures escapes. He did not get the
government land office, he did not get the senatorship. He did get the
presidency, and that in the crisis of the history of the nation. What
is more, when he got that he was thoroughly furnished unto every good



In the course of history there sometimes arises a man who has a
marvelous power of attaching others to himself. He commands a measure
of devotion and enthusiasm which it is impossible fully to understand.
Such a man was Henry Clay. Under the fascination of his qualities
Lincoln lived. From childhood to maturity Clay had been his idol, and
Clay's party, the whig, nearly synonymous with all that was desirable
in American politics. It was therefore no easy matter for Lincoln to
leave the whig party. Nothing could accomplish this but the
overmastering power of a noble emotion.

From childhood Lincoln had hated slavery. The fact that Kentucky was a
slave state had its influence in his father's removal to Indiana. His
personal observations upon his journeys down the Mississippi River had
given him a keener feeling on the subject. The persistent and ever-
increasing outrages of the slave power had intensified his hatred. The
time had come when he, and such as he, felt that other party questions
were of minor importance, and that everything else should for the time
be subordinated to the supreme question of slavery.

There were certain reasons why the whig party could not accomplish the
desired end. Its history had identified it with a different class of
subjects. Though Clay himself and a majority of his party were opposed
to the extension of slavery, there were still pro-slavery men in its
ranks in sufficient numbers to prevent any real efficiency on the
slavery question.

On the other hand, while the democratic party was overwhelmingly pro-
slavery, there were anti-slavery democrats who, from their numbers,
ability, and character, were not to be overlooked. The election to the
senate of Lyman Trumbull as an anti-Douglas democrat had crystalized
this wing of the party. The fiasco of Lincoln's defeat when the whigs
were in a good plurality caused much discontent in that party. If the
anti-slavery men were to be united for efficiency in opposing Douglas,
it must be under another organization--a new party must be formed.

In this the newspapers took the initiative. A number of papers
editorially called for a convention, which was really a mass meeting,
for there were no accredited delegates, and could be none. This met in
Decatur on Washington's birthday, 1856. It was a motley assembly, from
a political standpoint. It included whigs, democrats, free-soilers,
abolitionists, and know-nothings. Said Lincoln: "Of strange,
discordant, even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds."
Politicians were conspicuously absent, for it would imperil their
political orthodoxy to be seen there. Lincoln was the principal one who
had anything to lose. He was consulted on all measures, and gave freely
of his counsel. The proceedings ended with a dinner, at which he made a

He was the most prominent man in the new movement, was popular
throughout the state, and was the logical candidate for governor. He
would have been highly gratified with the candidacy. But again he put
personal desires one side that the general good might not be
endangered. He therefore proposed, in his after-dinner speech, for
nomination a democrat who had a record of earnest opposition to the
slave power. Refusing the use of his own name, he added: "But I can
suggest a name that will secure not only the old whig vote, but enough
anti-Nebraska democrats to give us the victory. That man is Colonel
William H. Bissell." Bissell was afterwards regularly nominated and
triumphantly elected. The meeting at Decatur called for a convention to
be held at Bloomington on the 29th of May.

About the same thing had been going on in some other free states. On
the very day of the Decatur meeting there was a notable meeting for the
same purpose in Pittsburg. This was attended by E. D. Morgan, governor
of New York, Horace Greeley, O. P. Morton, Zach. Chandler, Joshua R.
Giddings, and other prominent men. They issued the call for the first
national convention of the republican party to be held in Philadelphia
in June.

In May the Illinois convention assembled in Bloomington, and the most
conspicuous person there was Lincoln. It was there that he made the
amazing speech already described. It was the speech which held even the
reporters in such a spell that they could not report it. It is known in
history as the "lost speech," but the fame of it endures to this day.

The democratic convention met in Cincinnati early in June and nominated
James Buchanan to succeed Franklin Pierce. Thus Douglas was for a
second time defeated for the nomination.

The republican convention met a few days later in Philadelphia. At that
time John C. Fremont was at the height of his fame. His character was
romantic, and the record of his adventures was as fascinating as a
novel by Dumas. He had earned the name of "pathfinder" by crossing the
continent. Although unauthorized, he had in California raised a
military company which was of material assistance to the naval forces
of the United States against a Mexican insurrection. He was an ardent
hater of slavery. He was precisely the man, as standard-bearer, to
infuse enthusiasm into the new party and to give it a good start in its
career. He did this and did it well. The large vote which he polled
augured well for the future.

All this we may claim without denying the fact that it was fortunate
for the party and for the country that he was not elected. There was no
doubt of his sincerity or his patriotism. But he lacked self-control,
wariness, patience. He was hot-headed, extreme, egotistical. He never
could have carried the burdens of the first administration of the
republican party.

When the election was over, it was found that Buchanan had carried
every slave state except Maryland, which went to Fillmore. Fremont had
carried every New England state and five other northern states.
Buchanan received 174 electoral votes; Fremont, 114; Fillmore, 8. The
popular vote was, for Buchanan, 1,838,169; for Fremont, 1,341,264; for
Fillmore, 874,534. That was an excellent showing for the new party. It
showed that it had come to stay, and gave a reasonable hope of victory
at the next presidential election.

Lincoln was at the head of the electoral ticket of the state of
Illinois. He usually was on the ticket. He playfully called himself one
of the electors that seldom elected anybody. In Illinois the honors of
the election were evenly divided between the two parties. Buchanan
carried the state by a handsome majority, but Bissell was elected
governor by a good majority. Lincoln had faithfully canvassed the state
and made nearly fifty speeches. One paragraph from a speech made in
Galena should be quoted. The slave party had raised the cry of
sectionalism, and had charged that the republicans purposed to destroy
the Union. Lincoln said:

"But the Union, in any event, will not be dissolved. We don't want to
dissolve it, and if you attempt it we won't let you. With the purse and
sword, the army, the navy, and the treasury in our hands and at our
command, you could not do it. This government would be very weak indeed
if a majority with a disciplined army and navy and a well-filled
treasury could not preserve itself, when attacked by an unarmed,
undisciplined minority. All this talk about the dissolution of the
Union is humbug, nothing but folly. We do not want to dissolve the
Union; you shall not."

These words were prophetic of the condition of the country and of his
own policy four or five years later. But he apparently did not
apprehend that an unscrupulous administration might steal the army and
the munitions of war, scatter the navy, and empty the treasury.

On the 10th of December Lincoln spoke at a republican banquet in
Chicago. It was after the election, after Buchanan's supercilious
message to congress. The purpose of the speech was to forecast the
future of the young party. The following quotations may be read with

"He [Buchanan, in his message to congress] says the people did it. He
forgets that the 'people,' as he complacently calls only those who
voted for Buchanan, are in a minority of the whole people by about four
hundred thousand votes.... All of us who did not vote for Mr. Buchanan,
taken together, are a majority of four hundred thousand. But in the
late contest we were divided between Fremont and Fillmore. Can we not
come together for the future? Let every one who really believes, and is
resolved, that free society is not and shall not be a failure, and who
can conscientiously declare that in the past contest he has done only
what he thought best, let every such one have charity to believe that
every other one can say as much. Let bygones be bygones; let past
differences as nothing be; and with steady eye on the real issue, let
us re-inaugurate the good old 'central ideas' of the republic. We can do
it. The human heart is with us; God is with us. We shall again be able
to declare, not that 'all states as states are equal,' nor yet that
'all citizens as citizens are equal,' but to renew the broader, better
declaration, including these and much more, that 'all men are created

It was upon the wisdom of this plan that, four years later, he held the
foes of slavery united, while the foes of freedom were divided among
themselves. It was this that carried the party to its first victory and
made him president.



The admiring friends of Douglas had given him the nickname of "the
little giant." To this he was fairly entitled. Physically he was very
little. Intellectually he was a giant. He was in 1858 perhaps the most
prominent man in the United States. He was the unquestioned leader of
the dominant party. He had been so long in public life that he was
familiar with every public question, while upon the burning question of
slavery he was the leader.

Lincoln was a giant physically, and it soon became evident that he was
no less intellectually. These two men soon were to come together in a
series of joint debates. It was manifest that this would be a battle of
intellectual giants. No other such debates have ever occurred in the
history of the country.

Events led up to this rapidly and with the certainty of fate. In 1854
Lincoln had been candidate for the senate to succeed Shields, but his
party had been outwitted and he was compelled to substitute Trumbull.
In 1856 he was the logical candidate for governor, but he was of
opinion that the cause would be better served permanently by placing an
anti-slavery democrat in nomination. This was done and Bissell was
elected. Now in 1858 the senatorial term of Douglas was about to expire
and a successor would be chosen. Douglas was the candidate of his own
party. The republicans turned naturally and spontaneously to Lincoln,
for it would be no light task to defeat so strong an opponent.

The republican convention met in Springfield on the 16th of June.
Lincoln was by acclamation nominated "as the first and only choice" of
the republican party for United States senator. The above time-honored
phrase was used sincerely on that occasion. There was great enthusiasm,
absolute unanimity.

On the evening of the following day he addressed the convention in a
speech which has become historic. His opening words were:

"If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we
could better judge what to do and how to do it. We are now far into the
fifth year since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object and
confident promise of putting an end to the slavery agitation. Under the
operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but
has constantly augmented. In my opinion it will not cease until a
crisis shall have been reached and passed. 'A house divided against
itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure
permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be
dissolved--I do not expect the house to fall--but I do expect it will
cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.
Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it,
and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is
in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it
forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the states, old as
well as new, North as well as South."

This speech came quickly to be known as "the house-divided-against-
itself speech." By that name it is still known. Concluding he said:
"Our cause, then, must be entrusted to and conducted by its own
undoubted friends, those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the
work, who do care for the result.... The result is not doubtful. We
shall not fail. If we stand firm we shall not fail. Wise counsels may
accelerate or mistakes delay it, but sooner or later the victory is
sure to come." This was a strong speech, delivered before an audience
of men of unusual ability, delegates who represented all parts of the
state. It was in no wise a harangue. It was entirely thoughtful and
strictly logical. The effect of it was to intensify the enthusiasm, and
to spread it all through the state. It was a speech that Douglas could
not ignore, though he might misrepresent it. This he did by raising the
charge of sectionalism against his adversary.

About three weeks later, on the 9th of July, Douglas made an elaborate
speech in Chicago. Lincoln was in the audience. It was unofficially
arranged that he should reply. He did so the following evening. A week
later a similar thing occurred in Springfield. Douglas made a speech in
the afternoon to which Lincoln replied in the evening. Shortly after
this Lincoln wrote Douglas a letter proposing a series of joint
discussions, or challenging him to a series of joint debates. Douglas
replied in a patronizing and irritating tone, asked for a slight
advantage in his own favor, but he accepted the proposal. He did not do
it in a very gracious manner, but he did it. They arranged for seven
discussions in towns, the locations being scattered fairly over the
entire territory of the state.

If Illinois had before been "the cynosure of neighboring eyes," much
more was it so now. Lincoln was by no means the most prominent anti-
slavery man, but he was the only man in a position to beard his rival.
The proposed debates excited not only the interest of the state and the
neighboring states, but from the East and the South all minds were
turned to this tournament. It was not a local discussion; it was a
national and critical question that was at issue. The interest was no
less eager in New York, Washington, and Charleston than in
Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and St. Louis.

The two men had been neighbors for many years. They were together
members of the legislature, first in Vandalia and then in Springfield.
They had frequently met socially in Springfield. Both paid marked
attentions to the same young lady. Both had served in Washington City.
Douglas was for most of his life an officeholder, so that in one way or
another Lincoln would be brought into association with him. But though
they met so frequently it is not probable that, before this time,
either recognized in the other his supreme antagonist. After the repeal
of the Missouri Compromise Lincoln had, as already related, discussed
Douglas with great plainness of speech. This had been twice repeated in
this year. But these were, comparatively speaking, mere incidents. The
great contest was to be in the debates.

In the outset, Douglas had the advantage of prestige. Nothing succeeds
like success. Douglas had all his life had nothing but success. He
twice had missed the nomination for presidency, but he was still the
most formidable man in the senate. He was very popular in his own
state. He was everywhere greeted by large crowds, with bands of music
and other demonstrations. He always traveled in a special car and often
in a special train, which was freely placed at his disposal by the
Illinois Central Railway. Lincoln traveled by accommodation train,
freight train, or wagon, as best he could. As both the men were
everyday speaking independently between the debates, this question of
transportation was serious. The inconveniences of travel made a great
drain upon the nervous force and the health. One day when the freight
train bearing Lincoln was side-tracked to let his rival's special train
roll by, he good-humoredly remarked that Douglas "did not smell any
royalty in this car."

Another fact which gave Douglas the advantage was the friendship and
sympathy of Horace Greeley and others, who had much influence with the
party of Lincoln. Douglas had broken with Buchanan's administration on
a question relating to Kansas. The iniquity of the powers at Washington
went so far that even Douglas rebelled. This led Greeley and others to
think that Douglas had in him the making of a good republican if he was
only treated with sufficient consideration. Accordingly, all of that
influence was bitterly thrown in opposition to Lincoln.

The methods of the two men were as diverse as their bodily appearance.
Douglas was a master of what the ancient Greeks would have called
"making the worse appear the better reason." He was able to misstate
his antagonist's position so shrewdly as to deceive the very elect. And
with equal skill he could escape from the real meaning of his own
statements. Lincoln's characterization is apt: "Judge Douglas is
playing cuttlefish--a small species of fish that has no mode of
defending himself when pursued except by throwing out a black fluid
which makes the water so dark the enemy cannot see it, and thus it

Lincoln's method was to hold the discussion down to the point at issue
with clear and forcible statement. He arraigned the iniquity of slavery
as an offense against God. He made the phrase "all men" of the
Declaration of Independence include the black as well as the white.
Said he: "There is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled
to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of
Independence--the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness.... In the right to eat the bread, without the leave of
anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal, and the equal
of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man." He quoted
Jefferson's remark, "I tremble for my country when I remember that God
is just." Mercilessly he analyzed Douglas's speeches and exposed his

The forensic ability of the two men is suggestively indicated by the
remark of a lady who heard them speak, and afterward said: "I can
recall only one fact of the debates, that I felt so sorry for Lincoln
while Douglas was speaking, and then _so_ sorry for Douglas while
Lincoln was speaking."

These debates occupied seven different evenings of three hours each.
The speeches were afterwards published in book form and had a wide
circulation. These speeches, numbering twenty-one in all, filled a
large volume. It is not the purpose of this chapter to give an outline
of the debates, it is only to give a general idea of their result. But
out of them came one prominent fact, which so influenced the careers of
the two men that it must be briefly recorded. This went by the name of
"the Freeport doctrine."

In the first debate Douglas had asked Lincoln a series of questions.
The villainy of these questions was in the innuendo. They began, "I
desire to know whether Lincoln stands to-day, as he did in 1854, in
favor of," etc. Douglas then quoted from the platform of a convention
which Lincoln had not attended, and with which he had nothing to do.
Lincoln denied these insinuations, and said that he had never favored
those doctrines; but the trick succeeded, and the impression was made
that Douglas had cornered him. The questions, to all intents and
purposes, were a forgery. This forgery was quickly exposed by a Chicago
paper, and the result was not helpful to Douglas. It was made manifest
that he was not conducting the debates in a fair and manly way.

Further than this, the fact that these questions had been asked gave
Lincoln, in turn, the right to ask questions of Douglas. This right he
used. For the next debate, which was to be at Freeport, he prepared,
among others, the following question: "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?" If this were answered "No," it
would alienate the citizens of Illinois. If it were answered "Yes," it
would alienate the democrats of the South.

On the way to Freeport he met a number of friends and took counsel of
them. When he read question number two, the one above quoted, his
friends earnestly and unanimously advised him not to put that question.
"If you do," said they, "you never can be senator." To which Lincoln
replied: "Gentlemen, I am killing larger game. If Douglas answers, he
can never be President, and the battle of 1860 is worth a hundred of

It is not probable that Lincoln expected to be in 1860 the nominee of
the republican party. But he did see the danger of the election of
Douglas to the presidency. He was willing to surrender the senatorial
election to save the country from a Douglas administration. The
sacrifice was made. The prediction proved true. Lincoln lost the
senatorship, Douglas lost the presidency.

The popular verdict, as shown in the election, was in favor of Lincoln.
The republicans polled 125,430 votes; the Douglas democrats, 121,609,
and the Buchanan democrats, 5,071. But the apportionment of the
legislative districts was such that Douglas had a majority on the joint
ballot of the legislature. He received 54 votes to 46 for Lincoln. This
secured his reelection to the senate.

The popular verdict outside the state of Illinois was in favor of
Lincoln. The republican party circulated the volume containing the full
report of the speeches. It does not appear that the democrats did so.
This forces the conclusion that the intellectual and moral victory was
on the side of Lincoln.

There is a pathetic sequel to this. The campaign had been very arduous
on Lincoln. Douglas had made 130 speeches in 100 days, not counting
Sundays. Lincoln had made probably about the same number. These were
not brief addresses from a railway car, but fully elaborated speeches.
The labors commenced early in July and continued through the heat of
the summer. With Lincoln the inadequate means of travel added to the
draft upon his strength. At the end of all came the triumphant election
of his rival. Add to this the fact that the next day he received a
letter from the republican committee saying that their funds would not
meet the bills, and asking for an additional contribution. The rest is
best told in Lincoln's own words:

"Yours of the 15th is just received. I wrote you the same day. As to
the pecuniary matter, I am willing to pay according to my ability, but
I am the poorest hand living to get others to pay. I have been on
expense so long without earning anything that I am absolutely without
money now for even household purposes. Still, if you can put up $250
for me towards discharging the debt of the committee, I will allow it
when you and I settle the private matter between us. This, with what I
have already paid, and with an outstanding note of mine, will exceed my
subscription of $500. This, too, is exclusive of my ordinary expenses
during the campaign, all which, being added to my loss of time and
business, bears pretty heavily on one no better off in world's goods
than I; but as I had the post of honor, it is not for me to be over-
nice. You are feeling badly--'And this, too, shall pass away.' Never



So closely is the life of Lincoln intertwined with the growth of the
slave power that it will be necessary at this point to give a brief
space to the latter. It was the persistent, the ever-increasing, the
imperious demands of this power that called Lincoln to his post of
duty. The feeling upon the subject had reached a high degree of tension
at the period we are now considering. To understand this fully, we must
go back and come once again down through the period already treated.
There are three salient points of development.

The first of these is the fugitive slave law. At the adoption of the
Constitution it was arranged that there should be no specific approval
of slavery. For this reason the word "slave" does not appear in that
document. But the idea is there, and the phrase, "person held to
service or labor," fully covers the subject. Slaves were a valuable
property. The public opinion approved of the institution. To set up one
part of the territory as a refuge for escaped slaves would be an
infringement of this right of property, and would cause unceasing
friction between the various parts of the country.

In 1793, which happens to be the year of the invention of the cotton
gin, the fugitive slave law was passed. This was for the purpose of
enacting measures by which escaped slaves might be recaptured. This law
continued in force to 1850. As the years passed, the operation of this
law produced results not dreamed of in the outset. There came to be
free states, communities in which the very toleration of slavery was an
abomination. The conscience of these communities abhorred the
institution. Though these people were content to leave slavery
unmolested in the slave states, they were angered at having the horrors
of slave-hunting thrust upon them. In other words, they were unable to
reside in any locality, no matter how stringent the laws were in behalf
of freedom, where they were not liable to be invaded, their very homes
entered, by the institution of slavery in its most cruel forms.

This aroused a bitter antagonism in the North. Societies were formed to
assist fugitive slaves to escape to Canada. Men living at convenient
distances along the route were in communication with one another. The
fugitives were passed secretly and with great skill along this line.
These societies were known as the Underground Railway. The
appropriateness of this name is obvious. The men themselves who
secreted the fugitive slaves were said to keep stations on that

This organized endeavor to assist the fugitives was met by an increased
imperiousness on the part of the slave power. Slavery is imperious in
its nature. It almost inevitably cultivates that disposition in those
who wield the power. So that the case was rendered more exasperating by
the passage, in 1850, of another fugitive slave law. Nothing could have
been devised more surely adapted to inflame the moral sense of those
communities that were, in feeling or conscience, opposed to slavery,
than this law of 1850. This was a reenactment of the law of 1793, but
with more stringent and cruel regulations. The concealment or assisting
of a fugitive was highly penal. Any home might be invaded and searched.
No hearth was safe from intrusion. The negro could not testify in his
own behalf. It was practically impossible to counteract the oath or
affidavit of the pretended master, and a premium was practically put
upon perjury. The pursuit of slaves became a regular business, and its
operation was often indescribably horrible. These cruelties were
emphasized chiefly in the presence of those who were known to be averse
to slavery in any form, and they could not escape from the revolting

The culmination of this was in what is known as the Dred Scott
decision. Dred Scott was a slave in Missouri. He was by his master
taken to Fort Snelling, now in the state of Minnesota, then in the
territory of Wisconsin. This was free soil, and the slave was, at least
while there, free. With the consent of his former master he married a
free woman who had formerly been a slave. Two children were born to
them. The master returned to Missouri, bringing the negroes. He here
claimed that they, being on slave soil, were restored to the condition
of slavery.

Scott sued for his freedom and won his case. It was, however, appealed
to the Supreme Court of the United States. The first opinion of the
court was written by Judge Nelson. This treated of this specific case
only. Had this opinion issued as the finding of the court, it would not
have aroused general attention.

But the court was then dominated by the slave sentiment, and the
opportunity of laying down general principles on the subject of slavery
could not be resisted. The decision was written by Chief Justice Taney,
and reaches its climax in the declaration that the negro "had no rights
which the white man was bound to respect." Professor T. W. Dwight says
that much injustice was done to Chief Justice Taney by the erroneous
statement that he had himself affirmed that the negro "had no rights
which the white man was bound to respect." But while this may be
satisfactory to the legal mind, to the lay mind, to the average
citizen, it is a distinction without a difference, or, at best, with a
very slight difference. The Judge was giving what, in his opinion, was
the law of the land. It was his opinion, nay, it was his decision. Nor
was it the unanimous ruling of the court. Two justices dissented. The
words quoted are picturesque, and are well suited to a battle-cry. On
every side, with ominous emphasis in the North, one heard that the
negro had no rights which the white man was bound to respect. This was,
until 1860, the last and greatest exhibition of audacity on the part of
the slave power.

There was another exhibition of the spirit of slavery which deserves
special mention. This is the history of the settlement of Kansas. That
remarkable episode, lasting from 1854 to 1861, requires a volume, not a
paragraph, for its narration. It is almost impossible for the
imagination of those who live in an orderly, law-abiding community, to
conceive that such a condition of affairs ever existed in any portion
of the United States. The story of "bleeding Kansas" will long remain
an example of the proverb that truth is stranger than fiction.

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, in 1854, opened up to this free
territory the possibility of coming into the Union as a slave state. It
was to be left to the actual settlers to decide this question. This
principle was condensed into the phrase "squatter sovereignty." The
only resource left to those who wished Kansas to come in as a free
state was to settle it with an anti-slavery population.

With this purpose in view, societies were formed in anti-slavery
communities, extending as far east as the Atlantic coast, to assist
emigrants. From Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, and elsewhere,
emigrants poured into Kansas. But the slave party had the advantage of
geographical location. The slave state of Missouri was only just across
the river. It was able, at short notice and with little expense, to
pour out its population in large numbers. This it did. Many went from
Missouri as actual settlers. By far the larger part went only
temporarily and for the purpose of creating a disturbance. These were
popularly called "border ruffians." Their excesses of ruffianism are
not easily described. They went into the territory for the purpose of
driving out all the settlers who had come in under the emigrant aid
societies. Murder was common. At the elections, they practised
intimidation and every form of election fraud then known. Every
election was contested, and both parties always claimed the victory.
The parties elected two separate legislatures, adopted two
constitutions, established two capitals. For several years, civil war
and anarchy prevailed.

There is no doubt, either reasonable or unreasonable,--there is no
doubt whatever that the anti-slavery men had a vast majority of actual
settlers. The territorial governors were appointed by Presidents Pierce
and Buchanan. These were uniformly pro-slavery and extremely partisan.
But every governor quickly came to side with the free-state men, or
else resigned to get out of the way.

The pro-slavery men, after the farce of a pretended vote, declared the
Lecompton constitution adopted. The governor at that time was Walker,
of Mississippi, who had been appointed as a sure friend of the
interests of slavery. But even he revolted at so gross an outrage, and
made a personal visit to Washington to protest against it. It was at
this point, too, that Senator Douglas broke with the administration.

In spite of the overwhelming majority of anti-slavery settlers in the
state, Kansas was not admitted to the Union until after the
inauguration of Abraham Lincoln.

So unscrupulous, imperious, grasping was the slave power. Whom the gods
wish to destroy, they first make mad. The slave power had reached the
reckless point of madness and was rushing to its own destruction. These
three manifestations,--the fugitive-slave law, the Dred Scott decision,
and the anarchy in Kansas,--though they were revolting in the extreme
and indescribably painful, hastened the end.



Lincoln's modesty made it impossible for him to be ambitious. He
appreciated honors, and he desired them up to a certain point. But they
did not, in his way of looking at them, seem to belong to him. He was
slow to realize that he was of more than ordinary importance to the

At the first republican convention in 1856, when Fremont was nominated
for President, 111 votes were cast for Lincoln as the nominee for vice-
president. The fact was published in the papers. When he saw the item
it did not enter his head that he was the man. He said "there was a
celebrated man of that name in Massachusetts; doubtless it was he."

In 1858, when he asked Douglas the fatal question at Freeport, he was
simply killing off Douglas's aspirations for the presidency. It was
with no thought of being himself the successful rival.

Douglas had twice been a candidate for nomination before the democratic
convention. Had it not been for this question he would have been
elected at the next following presidential election.

As late as the early part of 1860, Lincoln vaguely desired the
nomination for the vice-presidency. He would have been glad to be the
running-mate of Seward, nothing more. Even this honor he thought to be
beyond his reach, so slowly did he come to realize the growth of his

The reports of the Lincoln-Douglas debates had produced a profound
sensation in the West. They were printed in large numbers and scattered
broadcast as campaign literature. Some Eastern men, also, had been
alert to observe these events. William Cullen Bryant, the scholarly
editor of the New York _Evening Post_, had shown keen interest in
the debates.

Even after the election Lincoln did not cease the vigor of his
criticisms. It will be remembered that before the formal debate Lincoln
voluntarily went to Chicago to hear Douglas and to answer him. He
followed him to Springfield and did the same thing. He now, after the
election of 1858, followed him to Ohio and answered his speeches in
Columbus and Cincinnati.

The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, who was always watchful of the
development of the anti-slavery sentiment, now invited Lincoln to
lecture in Plymouth Church, Brooklyn. The invitation was accepted with
the provision that the lecture might be a political speech.

J. G. Holland, who doubtless knew whereof he wrote, declares that it
was a great misfortune that Lincoln was introduced to the country as a
rail-splitter. Americans have no prejudice against humble beginnings,
they are proud of self-made men, but there is nothing in the ability to
split rails which necessarily qualifies one for the demands of
statesmanship. Some of his ardent friends, far more zealous than
judicious, had expressed so much glory over Abe the rail-splitter, that
it left the impression that he was little more than a rail-splitter who
could talk volubly and tell funny stories. This naturally alienated the
finest culture east of the Alleghanies. "It took years for the country
to learn that Mr. Lincoln was not a boor. It took years for them to
unlearn what an unwise and boyish introduction of a great man to the
public had taught them. It took years for them to comprehend the fact
that in Mr. Lincoln the country had the wisest, truest, gentlest,
noblest, most sagacious President who had occupied the chair of state
since Washington retired from it."

When he reached New York he found that there had been a change of plan,
and he was to speak in Cooper Institute, New York, instead of Beecher's
church. He took the utmost care in revising his speech, for he felt
that he was on new ground and must not do less than his best.

But though he made the most perfect intellectual preparation, the
esthetic element of his personal appearance was sadly neglected. He was
angular and loose-jointed,--he could not help that. He had provided
himself, or had been provided, with a brand-new suit of clothes,
whether of good material or poor we cannot say, whether well-fitting or
ill-fitting we do not know, though we may easily guess. But we do know
that it had been crowded into a small carpet-bag and came out a mass of
wrinkles. And during the speech the collar or lappel annoyed both
speaker and audience by persisting in rising up unbidden.

These details are mentioned to show the difficulty of the task before
the orator. In the audience and on the platform were many of the most
brilliant and scholarly men of the metropolis. There were also large
numbers who had come chiefly to hear the westerner tell a lot of funny
stories. The orator was introduced by Bryant.

The speech was strictly intellectual from beginning to end. Though
Lincoln was not known in New York, Douglas was. So he fittingly took
his start from a quotation of Douglas. The speech cannot be epitomized,
but its general drift may be divined from its opening and closing

The quotation from Douglas was that which had been uttered at Columbus
a few months before: "Our fathers, when they framed the government
under which we live, understood this question (the question of slavery)
just as well, and even better, than we do now." To this proposition the
orator assented. That raised the inquiry, What was their understanding
of the question? This was a historical question, and could be answered
only by honest and painstaking research.

Continuing, the speaker said: "Does the proper division of local from
Federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal
government to control as to slavery in our Federal territories? Upon
this Senator Douglas holds the affirmative and the republicans the
negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue, and this issue--
this question--is precisely what the text declares our fathers
understood 'better than we.'

"I defy any one to show that any living man in the whole world ever
did, prior to the beginning of the present century (and I might almost
say prior to the beginning of the last half of the present century),
declare that in his understanding any proper division of local from
Federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal
government to control as to slavery in the Federal territories. To
those who now so declare, I give, not only 'our fathers who framed the
government under which we live,' but with them all other living men
within the century in which it was framed, among whom to search, and
they shall not be able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing
with them."

One paragraph is quoted for the aptness of its illustration: "But you
will not abide the election of a republican President! In that supposed
event, you say you will destroy the Union; and then you say, the great
crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A
highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth,
'Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a
murderer!' To be sure, what the robber demanded of me--my money--was my
own, and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than
my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me to extort my money,
and the threat of destruction to the Union to extort my vote, can
scarcely be distinguished in principle."

The speech reached its climax in its closing paragraph: "Wrong as we
think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is,
because that so 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 would 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 to beseech all 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

"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."

This speech placed Lincoln in the line of the presidency. Not only was
it received with unbounded enthusiasm by the mass of the people, but it
was a revelation to the more intellectual and cultivated. Lincoln
afterwards told of a professor of rhetoric at Yale College who was
present. He made an abstract of the speech and the next day presented
it to the class as a model of cogency and finish. This professor
followed Lincoln to Meriden to hear him again. The _Tribune_ gave
to the speech unstinted praise, declaring that "no man ever before made
such an impression on his first appeal to a New York audience."

The greatest compliment, because the most deliberate, was that of the
committee who prepared the speech for general distribution. Their
preface is sufficiently explicit:

"No one who has not actually attempted to verify its details can
understand the patient research and historical labors which it
embodies. The history of our earlier politics is scattered through
numerous journals, statutes, pamphlets, and letters; and these are
defective in completeness and accuracy of statement, and in indices and
tables of contents. Neither can any one who has not traveled over this
precise ground appreciate the accuracy of every trivial detail, or the
self-denying impartiality with which Mr. Lincoln has turned from the
testimony of 'the fathers' on the general question of slavery, to
present the single question which he discusses. From the first line to
the last, from his premises to his conclusion, he travels with a swift,
unerring directness which no logician ever excelled, an argument
complete and full, without the affectation of learning, and without the
stiffness which usually accompanies dates and details. A single, easy,
simple sentence of plain Anglo-Saxon words, contains a chapter of
history that, in some instances, has taken days of labor to verify, and
which must have cost the author months of investigation to acquire."

Surely Mr. Bryant and Mr. Beecher and the rest had every reason for
gratification that they had introduced this man of humble beginnings to
so brilliant a New York audience.

Lincoln went to Exeter, N.H., to visit his son who was in Phillips
Academy preparing for Harvard College. Both going and returning he made
several speeches, all of which were received with more than ordinary
favor. By the time he returned home he was no longer an unknown man. He
was looked on with marked favor in all that portion of the country
which lies north of Mason and Dixon's line.



The subject of this chapter is the republican convention that nominated
Lincoln for the presidency. But for an intelligent narration of this,
it is necessary to give a brief account of at least one of the three
other important political conventions that were held that year. That
one was the regular democratic convention at Charleston. And certain
other facts also must be narrated.

Leaven was working in two respects. The first is that the plan of
secession and of setting up a Southern nation founded upon slavery, was
not a sudden or impromptu thought. The evidence is conclusive that the
plan had been maturing for years. Recent events had shown that slavery
had reached the limit of its development so far as concerned the
territory of the United States. The plan to annex Cuba as a garden for
the culture of slavery, had failed. California had been admitted as a
free state. Slavery had been excluded from Kansas, although that
territory had for two years been denied admission to the sisterhood of

As the slave power was not content with any limitation whatever, its
leaders now looked for an opportunity to break up this present
government and start a new one. At the time (December, 1860) South
Carolina passed the ordinance of secession, to be narrated later,
certain things were said which may be quoted here. These utterances
exposed the spirit that animated the slave power long before Lincoln's
election, long before he was even known in politics.

Parker said that the movement of secession had been "gradually
culminating for _a long series of years_."

Inglis endorsed the remark and added, "Most of us have had this matter
under consideration for the last twenty years."

Keitt said, "I have been engaged in this movement _ever since I
entered political life_."

Rhett said, "The secession of South Carolina was not the event of a
day. It is not anything produced by Mr. Lincoln's election, or by the
non-execution of the fugitive slave law. It is a matter which has been
gathering head _for thirty years_. The election of Lincoln and
Hamlin was the last straw on the back of the camel. But it was not the
only one. The back was nearly broken before.

The other important fact was the result of Lincoln's Freeport question.
The answer of Douglas was: "I answer _emphatically_ ... that in my
opinion the people of a territory can, by lawful means, exclude slavery
from its limits prior to the formation of a state constitution." This
answer satisfied the democrats of Illinois and secured his election to
the senate, as Lincoln predicted that it would. But it angered the
southern leaders beyond all reason--as Lincoln knew it would.

When, therefore, the democratic convention met in Charleston, the first
purpose of the southern leaders was to defeat Douglas. In their
judgment he was not orthodox on slavery. He was far the strongest
candidate before the convention, but he was not strong enough to secure
the two-thirds vote which under the rules of that party were necessary
to a choice. After fifty-seven ballots, and a corresponding amount of
debating, the feeling of antagonism rising, continually higher, the
crisis came. The southern delegates withdrew from the convention and
appointed a convention of their own to be held in Richmond. This was
done with the full knowledge that, if it accomplished anything, it
would accomplish the defeat of the party. It was probably done for this
very purpose,--to defeat the party,--so as to give an excuse, more or
less plausible, for carrying out the matured plan of secession,
claiming to be injured or alarmed at the ascendancy of the republican

Up to this point, at least, Lincoln had no aspirations for the
presidency. But he did aspire to the United States senate. He accepted
his defeat by Douglas in 1858 as only temporary. He knew there would be
another senatorial election in four years. When asked how he felt about
this defeat, he turned it into a joke, and said that he felt "like the
boy who had stubbed his toe, too badly to laugh, and he was too big to

He had thought of being nominated as vice-president with Seward as
President, which would have given him, if elected, a place in the
senate. He was glad of any possible prominence in the Chicago
convention, which was still in the future. For that would help his
senatorial aspirations when the time came. But as to anything higher,
he declared, "I must in all candor say that I do not think myself fit
for the presidency." And he was an honest man. With the senate still in
view, he added, "I am not in a position where it would hurt me much not
to be nominated [for president] on the national ticket; but I am where
it would hurt some for me not to get the Illinois delegates."

Thus, at the beginning of the year 1860, Lincoln was in no sense in the
race for the presidential nomination. About that time a list of twenty-
one names of possible candidates was published in New York; Lincoln's
name was not on the list. A list of thirty-five was published in
Philadelphia. Lincoln's name was not on that list. After the speech at
Cooper Institute the Evening Post mentioned Lincoln's name along with
others. That was the only case in the East.

In Illinois his candidacy developed in February and came to ahead at
the republican state convention at Decatur. Lincoln's name had been
prominent in the preceding local conventions, and the enthusiasm was
growing. Decatur was very near to the place where Thomas Lincoln had
first settled when he came into the state. When Abraham Lincoln came
into this convention he was greeted with an outburst of enthusiasm.
After order had been restored, the chairman, Governor Oglesby,
announced that an old-time Macon County democrat desired to make a
contribution to the convention. The offer being accepted, a banner was
borne up the hall upon two old fence rails. The whole was gaily
decorated and the inscription was:


  Two rails from a lot of 3,000 made in 1830 by
  Thos. Hanks and Abe Lincoln-whose
  father was the first pioneer of
  Macon County.

This incident was the means of enlarging the soubriquet "Honest Abe" to
"Honest Old Abe, the Rail-splitter." The enthusiasm over the rails
spread far and wide. That he had split rails, and that he even had done
it well, was no test of his statesmanship. But it was a reminder of his
humble origin, and it attached him to the common people, between whom
and himself there had always been a warm feeling of mutual sympathy.

The democratic convention had, after the bolt of the extreme
southerners, adjourned to Baltimore, where they duly nominated Douglas.
What any one could have done for the purpose of restoring harmony in
the party, he did. But the breach was too wide for even that astute
politician to bridge over. Lincoln grasped the situation. It was what
he had planned two years before, and he confidently expected just this
breach. "Douglas never can be President," he had said. He fully
understood the relentless bitterness of the slave power, and he well
knew that whatever Douglas might do for the northern democrats, he had
lost all influence with the southern branch of that party. So Lincoln
told his "little story" and serenely awaited the result.

The second republican national convention met in Chicago, May 16, 1860.
A temporary wooden structure, called a wigwam, had been built for the
purpose. It was, for those days, a very large building, and would
accommodate about ten thousand people.

The man who was, far and away, the most prominent candidate for the
nomination, was William H. Seward, of New York. He had the benefit of
thirty years of experience in political life. He was a man of wide
learning, fine culture, unequaled as a diplomatist; he was a patriot, a
statesman, and loyal to the principles of the republican party. He had
a plurality of the delegates by a wide margin, though not a majority.
It seemed a foregone conclusion that he would be nominated. Horace
Greeley, who was determinedly opposed to him, gave up the contest and
telegraphed to his paper that Seward would be nominated. The
opposition, he said, could not unite on any one man.

The next most prominent name was Lincoln. He had the full delegation of
Illinois, who, at Decatur, had been instructed to vote for him as "the
first and only choice" of the state. He had many votes, too, from the
neighboring states.

In addition to these two candidates before the convention, there were
half a dozen others, all "favorite sons" of their own states, but who
at no time developed any great strength.

The only point against Seward was his inability to carry certain
doubtful states. If the split in the democratic party had not occurred,
and if the election were to be carried according to the experience of
1856, it would be necessary for the republicans to carry certain states
which they had at that time failed to carry. The most available states
were Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, and Illinois. Under favorable
circumstances, these could be carried. Seward's long public career had
inevitably caused antagonisms, and these necessary states he could not
carry. The question with his opponents then was, Who is most likely to
carry these states? Lincoln's popularity in three of the four states
named singled him out as the rival of Seward. It then became only a
question whether the opposition to Seward could or could not unite in
the support of Lincoln.

At this point there came in a political ruse which has been often used
in later years. Seward's friends had taken to Chicago a small army of
claquers, numbering nearly or quite two thousand. These were
distributed through the audience and were apparently under orders to
shout whenever Seward's name was mentioned. This gave the appearance of
spontaneous applause and seemed to arouse great enthusiasm for the

Lincoln's friends soon came to understand the situation and planned to
beat their rivals at their own game. They sent out into the country and
secured two men with phenomenal voices. It was said, with playful
exaggeration, that these two men could shout so as to be heard across
Lake Michigan. They were made captains of two stentorian bands of
followers. These were placed on opposite sides of the auditorium and
were instructed to raise the shout at a preconcerted signal and keep it
up as long as desired. The plan worked.

Leonard Swett describes the result: "Caleb B. Smith of Indiana then
seconded the nomination of Lincoln, and the West came to his rescue. No
mortal before ever saw such a scene. The idea of us Hoosiers and
Suckers being out-screamed would have been as bad to them as the loss
of their man. Five thousand people at once leaped to their seats, women
not wanting in the number, and the wild yell made soft vesper
breathings of all that had preceded. No language can describe it. A
thousand steam-whistles, ten acres of hotel gongs, a tribe of Comanches
headed by a choice vanguard from pandemonium, might have mingled in the
scene unnoticed."

A dramatic scene had occurred at the adoption of the platform. When the
first resolution was read, Joshua E. Giddings, an old-time abolitionist
of the extreme type, moved as an amendment to incorporate the words
from the Declaration of Independence which announce the right of all
men to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The hostility to
this amendment was not so much owing to an objection to the phrase, as
to its being introduced upon the motion of so extreme a partisan as
Giddings. The new party was made up of men of various old parties, and
it was important that the moderate democrats should not be antagonized
by the extreme abolitionists. The motion was lost by a decided vote,
and the old man, almost broken-hearted, left the hall amid the
protestations of his associates.

There then came to his rescue a young man, about thirty-six years of
age, who was then not widely known, but who since has more than once
decidedly influenced republican conventions at a critical stage of the
proceedings. It was George William Curtis. When the second resolution
was under consideration he presented the amendment of Giddings in a
form slightly modified. He then urged it in an impassioned speech, and
by his torrent of eloquence carried the enthusiasm of the convention
with him. "I have to ask this convention," he concluded, "whether they
are prepared to go upon the record before the country as voting down
the words of the Declaration of Independence.... I rise simply to ask
gentlemen to think well before, upon the free prairies of the West, in
the summer of 1860, they dare to wince and quail before the assertion
of the men of Philadelphia in 1776--before they dare to shrink from
repeating the words that these great men enunciated."

The amendment was adopted in a storm of applause. Giddings, overjoyed
at the result, returned to the hall. He threw his arms about Curtis
and, with deep emotion, exclaimed,--"God bless you, my boy! You have
saved the republican party. God bless you!"

The candidates in those days were simply announced without speeches of
glorification, Mr. Evarts of New York named Seward, and Mr. Judd of
Illinois named Lincoln. The names of half a dozen "favorite sons" were
offered by their states, the most important being Bates of Missouri.
After the seconding of the nominations the convention proceeded to the
ballot. There were 465 votes, and 233 were necessary for a choice.

On the first ballot Seward received 173-1/2, and Lincoln, 102. The rest
were scattering. On the second ballot Seward received 184-1/2, and
Lincoln, 181. Seward was still ahead, but Lincoln had made by far the
greater gain. On the third ballot Seward received 180, and Lincoln 231-
1/2. But this ballot was not announced. The delegates kept tally during
the progress of the vote. When it became evident that Lincoln was about
elected, while the feeling of expectancy was at the highest degree of
tension, an Ohio delegate mounted his chair and announced a change of
four Ohio votes from Chase to Lincoln. There was instantly a break. On
every side delegates announced a change of vote to Lincoln. The result
was evident to every one, and after a moment's pause, the crowd went
mad with joy. One spectator has recorded the event:

"The scene which followed baffles all human description. After an
instant's silence, which seemed to be required to enable the assembly
to take in the full force of the announcement, the wildest and
mightiest yell (for it can be called by no other name) burst forth from
ten thousand voices which were ever heard from mortal throats. This
strange and tremendous demonstration, accompanied with leaping up and
down, tossing hats, handkerchiefs, and canes recklessly into the air,
with the waving of flags, and with every other conceivable mode of
exultant and unbridled joy, continued steadily and without pause for
perhaps ten minutes."

"It then began to rise and fall in slow and billowing bursts, and for
perhaps the next five minutes, these stupendous waves of uncontrollable
excitement, now rising into the deepest and fiercest shouts, and then
sinking, like the ground swell of the ocean, into hoarse and lessening
murmurs, rolled through the multitude. Every now and then it would seem
as though the physical power of the assembly was exhausted, when all at
once a new hurricane would break out, more prolonged and terrific than
anything before. If sheer exhaustion had not prevented, we don't know
but the applause would have continued to this hour."

During all this time Lincoln remained at Springfield, where he was in
telegraphic communication with his friends at Chicago, though not by
private wire. At the time of his nomination he had gone from his office
to that of the Sangamon _Journal_. A messenger boy came rushing up
to him, carrying a telegram and exclaiming, "You are nominated." The
friends who were present joyously shook his hands and uttered their
eager congratulations. Lincoln thanked them for their good wishes, and
said "There is a little woman on Eighth Street who will be glad to hear
this, and I guess I'll go up and carry her the news." Pocketing the
telegram he walked home.

At the wigwam, the news spread quickly. A man had been stationed on the
roof as picket. He shouted, "Hallelujah! Abe Lincoln is nominated. Fire
the cannon!" The frenzy of joy spread to the immense throng of citizens
outside the wigwam, then through the city, then through the state, then
through the neighboring states. At Washington that night some one
asked, "Who is this man Lincoln, anyhow?" Douglas replied, "There won't
be a tar barrel left in Illinois' tonight." With unprecedented
enthusiasm the republican party started on this campaign which led to
its first victory in the election of Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, and
Hannibal Hamlin of Maine.



There are two things which made the campaign of 1860 paradoxical, so to
speak. One was that the nomination was equivalent to an election,
unless unforeseen difficulties should arise. The other was that this
election might be used by the extreme Southern democrats as an excuse
for precipitating war. They threatened this.

After the nomination the committee of the convention duly called on
Lincoln to give him the formal notification. This committee included
some names that were at that time, and still more so later, widely
known. Among them were three from Massachusetts: Ashmun, then Governor,
and chairman of the Chicago convention, Bowles, editor of the
Springfield _Republican_, and Boutwell. There were also Gideon
Welles, Carl Schurz, Francis P. Blair, and W. M. Evarts. The chairman
of this committee notified Lincoln in a brief speech, to which he
responded with equal brevity. Even these few words impressed his
hearers with a sense of dignity and manliness which they were only too
glad to perceive. Said Mr. Boutwell: "Why, sir, they told me he was a
rough diamond. Nothing could have been in better taste than that

One who had opposed Lincoln in the convention said: "We might have done
a more daring thing [than nominate him], but we certainly could not
have done a better thing." Carl Schurz evidently shared this feeling.

Judge Kelly of Pennsylvania was a very tall man and was proud of the
fact. During the brief ceremony he and Lincoln had been measuring each
other with the eye. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the President-
elect demanded:

"What's your height?"

"Six feet three. What is yours, Mr. Lincoln?"

"Six feet four."

"Then," said the judge, "Pennsylvania bows to Illinois. My dear man,
for many years my heart has been aching for a President I could _look
up to_, and I've found him at last in the land where we thought
there were none but _little_ giants."

The general feeling of the committee was that the convention had made
no mistake. This feeling quickly spread throughout the entire party.
Some of Seward's friends wanted him to run on an independent ticket. It
is to his credit that he scouted the idea. The democrats, at least the
opponents of Lincoln, were divided into three camps, The first was the
regular party, headed by Douglas. The second was the bolting party of
fire-eaters, who nominated Breckinridge. The third was the party that
nominated Bell and Everett. This was wittily called the Kangaroo
ticket, because the tail was the most important part. Lincoln's popular
vote at the November election was about forty per cent, of the total.
It was plain that if his supporters held together and his opponents
were divided, he could readily get a plurality. There were attempts on
the part of the opponents of Lincoln to run fusion tickets in New York,
New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, so as to divert the electoral votes from
him; but these came to nothing more than that New Jersey diverted three
of her seven electoral votes.

A curious feature of the campaign was that all four candidates declared
emphatically for the Union. Breckinridge, who was the candidate of the
Southern disunionists, wrote; "The Constitution and the equality of the
states, these are symbols of everlasting union." Lincoln himself could
hardly have used stronger language. Some people were doubtless deceived
by these protestations, but not Douglas. He declared: "I do not believe
that every Breckinridge man is a disunionist, but I do believe that
every disunionist in America is a Breckinridge man." During the period
of nearly six months between nomination and election, Lincoln continued
simple, patient, wise. He was gratified by the nomination. He was not
elated, for he was not an ambitious man. On the contrary, he felt the
burden of responsibility. He was a far-seeing statesman, and no man
more distinctly realized the coming tragedy. He felt the call of duty,
not to triumph but to sacrifice. This was the cause of his seriousness
and gravity of demeanor.

There was no unnecessary change in his simple manners and unpretentious
method of living. Friends and neighbors came, and he was glad to see
them. He answered the door-bell himself and accompanied visitors to the
door. Some of his friends, desiring to save his strength in these
little matters, procured a negro valet, Thomas by name. But Abraham
continued to do most of the duties that by right belonged to Thomas.

Some one sent him a silk hat, that he might go to Washington with head-
gear equal to the occasion. A farmer's wife knit him a pair of yarn
stockings. Hundreds of such attentions, kind in intent, grotesque in
appearance, he received with that kindness which is the soul of
courtesy. There was a woman at whose modest farmhouse he had once dined
on a bowl of bread and milk, because he had arrived after everything
else had been eaten up. She came into Springfield to renew her
apologies and to remind him that he had said that that repast was "good
enough for the President." While he commanded the respect of Bryant,
Schurz, Boutwell, and such, he was at the same time the idol of the
plain people, whom he always loved. He once said he thought the Lord
particularly loved plain people, for he had made so many of them.

Shortly after his nomination he was present at a party in Chicago. A
little girl approached timidly. He asked, encouragingly, if he could do
anything for her. She replied that she wanted his name. He looked about
and said, "But here are other little girls--they will feel badly if I
give my name only to you." She said there were eight of them in all.
"Then," said he, "get me eight sheets of paper, and a pen and ink, and
I will see what I can do for you." The materials were brought, and in
the crowded drawing-room he sat down, wrote a sentence and his name on
each sheet of paper. Thus he made eight little girls happy.

The campaign was one of great excitement. His letter of acceptance was
of the briefest description and simply announced his adherence to the
platform. For the rest, his previous utterances in the debates with
Douglas, the Cooper Institute speech, and other addresses, were in
print, and he was content to stand by the record. He showed his wisdom
in his refusing to be diverted, or to allow his party to be diverted,
from the one important question of preventing the further extension of
slavery. The public were not permitted to lose sight of the fact that
this was the real issue. The Chicago wigwam was copied in many cities:
temporary wooden structures were erected for republican meetings. These
did good service as rallying centers.

Then the campaign biographers began to appear. It was said that by June
he had had no less than fifty-two applications to write his biography.
One such book was written by W. D. Howells, not so famous in literature
then as now. Lincoln furnished a sketch of his life, an "autobiography"
so called. This contains only about five hundred words. Its brevity is
an indication of its modesty.

Nor was there any lack of eulogistic music. Among the writers of
campaign songs were J. G. Whittier and E. C. Stedman.

The parading contingent of the party was represented by the "Wide-
Awakes." The uniform was as effective as simple. It consisted of a
cadet cap and a cape, both made of oil-cloth, and a torch. The first
company was organized in Hartford. It had escorted Lincoln from the
hotel to the hall and back again when he spoke in that city in February
after his Cooper Institute speech. The idea of this uniformed company
of cadets captivated the public fancy. Bands of Wide-Awakes were
organized in every community in the North. At the frequent political
rallies they poured in by thousands and tens of thousands, a very
picturesque sight. The original band in Hartford obtained the identical
maul with which Lincoln had split those rails in 1830. It is now in the
collection of the Connecticut Historical Society, in Hartford.

Though Lincoln had much to cheer him, he had also his share of
annoyances. One of his discouragements was so serious, and at this day
it appears so amazing, that it is given nearly in full. A careful
canvas had been made of the voters of Springfield, and the intention of
each voter had been recorded. Lincoln had the book containing this
record. He asked his friend Mr. Bateman, the State Superintendent of
Public Instruction, to look through the book with him. They noted
particularly those who might be considered leaders of public morals:
clergymen, officers, or prominent members of the churches.

When the memorandum was tabulated, after some minutes of silence, he
turned a sad face to Mr. Bateman, and said: "Here are twenty-three
ministers, of different denominations, and all of them are against me
but three; and here are a great many prominent members of the churches,
a very large majority of whom 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." He drew from his pocket a
New Testament. "These men well know that I am for freedom in the
territories, freedom everywhere as far as the Constitution and 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."

After a long pause, he added with tears: "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 doesn't care whether slavery is voted up
or voted down, but God cares, and humanity cares, and I care; and with
God's help I shall not fail. I may not see the end; but it will come
and I shall be vindicated; and these men will find that they have not
read their Bibles aright."

After another pause: "Doesn't it appear strange that men can ignore the
moral aspects of this contest? A revelation could not make it plainer
to me that slavery or the government must be destroyed. The future
would be something awful, as I look at it, but for this rock [the
Testament which he was holding] on which I stand,--especially with the
knowledge of how these ministers are going to vote. It seems as if God
had borne with this thing [slavery] until the very teachers of religion
had come to defend it from the Bible, and to claim for it a divine
character and sanction; and now the cup of iniquity is full, and the
vials of wrath will be poured out."

Lincoln did not wear his heart upon his sleeve. On the subject of
religion, he was reticent to a degree. Peter Cartwright had called him
an atheist. There was a wide, if not general, impression, that he was
not a religious man. This did him great injustice. It is for this
reason that his remarks to Mr. Bateman are here quoted at length. From
his early boyhood, from before the time when he was at great pains to
have a memorial sermon for his mother, he was profoundly, intensely
religious. He did no injustice to any other man, he did not do justice
to himself.

The election occurred on the sixth day of November. The vote was as
follows: Lincoln received 1,866,452 popular votes, and one hundred and
eighty electoral votes. Douglas received 1,375,157 popular votes, and
twelve electoral votes. Breckinridge received 847,953 popular votes,
and seventy-two electoral votes. Bell received 590,631 popular votes,
and thirty-nine electoral votes.

Lincoln carried all the free states, excepting that in New Jersey the
electoral vote was divided, he receiving four out of seven. In the
fifteen slave states he received no electoral vote. In ten states not
one person had voted for him.

Of the 303 electoral votes he had received 180, while the aggregate of
all against him numbered 123, giving him an absolute majority of 57.
The electoral vote was duly counted in the joint session of the two
houses of congress February 13, 1861, and it was officially announced
that Abraham Lincoln, having received a majority of the votes of the
presidential electors, was duly elected President of the United States
for four years, beginning March 4, 1861.

One circumstance is added which may be of interest to the reader. This
was published, after his death, by his personal friend, Noah Brooks. It
is given in Lincoln's own words: "It was just after my election, in
1860, when the news had been coming in thick and fast all day, and
there had been a great 'Hurrah boys!' so that I was well tired out and
went home to rest, throwing myself upon a lounge in my chamber.
Opposite to where I lay was a bureau with a swinging glass upon it; and
looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected nearly at full length;
but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip
of the nose of the one being about three inches from the tip of the
other. I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked
in the glass, but the illusion vanished. On lying down again, I saw it
a second time, plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed
that one of the faces was a little paler--say five shades--than the
other. I got up, and the thing melted away, and I went off, and, in the
excitement of the hour, forgot all about it,--nearly, but not quite,
for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang
as though something uncomfortable had happened. When I went home, I
told my wife about it, and a few days after I tried the experiment
again, when, sure enough, the thing came back again; but I never
succeeded in bringing the ghost back after that, though I once tried
very industriously to show it to my wife, who was worried about it
somewhat. She thought it was 'a sign' that I was to be elected to a
second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an
omen that I should not see life through the last term."

The incident is of no interest excepting in so far as everything about
Lincoln is of interest. The phenomenon is an optical illusion not
uncommon. One image--the "paler," or more indistinct, one--is reflected
from the surface of the glass, while the other is reflected from the
silvered back of the glass. Though Lincoln understood that it was an
optical illusion, yet the thought of it evidently weighed on him.
Otherwise he would not have repeated the experiment several times, nor
would he have told of it to different persons.



Four months would not ordinarily be considered a long period of time.
But when one is compelled to see the working of a vast amount of
mischief, powerless to prevent it, and knowing one's self to be the
chief victim of it all, the time is long. Such was the fate of Lincoln.
The election was not the end of a life of toil and struggle, it was the
beginning of a new career of sorrow. The period of four months between
the election and inauguration could not be devoted to rest or to the
pleasant plans for a prosperous term of service. There developed a plan
for the disruption of the government. The excuse was Lincoln's
election. But he was for four months only a private citizen. He had no
power. He could only watch the growing mischief and realize that he was
the ultimate victim. Buchanan, who was then President, had a genius for
doing the most unwise thing. He was a northern man with southern
principles, and this may have unfitted him to see things in their true
relations. He certainly was putty in the hands of those who wished to
destroy the Union, and his vacillation precisely accomplished what they
wished. Had he possessed the firmness and spirit of John A. Dix, who
ordered,--"If any man attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot
him on the spot;" had he had a modicum of the patriotism of Andrew
Jackson; had he had a tithe of the wisdom and manliness of Lincoln;
secession would have been nipped in the bud and vast treasures of money
and irreparable waste of human blood would have been spared. Whatever
the reason may have been,--incapacity, obliquity of moral and political
vision, or absolute championship of the cause of disruption,--certain
it is that the southern fire-eaters could not have found a tool more
perfectly suited to their purpose than James Buchanan. He was the
center of one of the most astonishing political cabals of all history.

Lincoln did not pass indiscriminate condemnation upon all men of
southern sympathies. At the time of which we are now writing, and
consistently up to the end of his life, he made a marked distinction
between the rank and file of the Confederates on the one hand, and
those leaders who, on the other hand, had, while in the service of the
United States government, sought to accomplish its destruction. The
first were revolutionists; they were so regarded generally in Europe,
and he believed they were sincere; he regarded them as having the
spirit of revolutionists. For the second, who held office under, drew
pay from, and were under solemn oath to support, the government, while
they were using the vantage of their official position to violate the
Constitution and disrupt that government, there is but one word, and
that a strong one,--traitors. This was Lincoln's judgment of the men.

Let us now briefly describe the situation. Jefferson Davis, though not
a member of Buchanan's cabinet, was probably the most influential of
the Southerners in Washington. He had been Secretary of War under
Pierce, and it was he who inaugurated the policy of stripping the North
for the purpose of strengthening the military defenses of the South.
This policy was vigorously pursued under his successor.

The only person to call a halt to the treasonable proceedings was
General Winfield Scott. He was residing in New York City, and on
October 29th addressed a letter to President Buchanan containing his
views upon the situation. A day or two later he added supplementary
considerations addressed to the Secretary of War. He set forth, with
much clearness and force, the necessity of garrisoning the southern
forts before they should be lost; His letter had its faults, but it
accomplished one thing: it showed that there was one high official who
was in earnest in the discharge of his duties, and with whom it was not
safe to trifle.

President Buchanan sent in his annual message to Congress December
3, 1860. In his discussion of the subject of slavery, he recommended
that it be extended to the territories,--the very thing that the people
had just voted should not be done. Concerning secession, he said for
substance that the government had the power to suppress revolt, but
that it could not use that power in reference to South Carolina, the
state then under consideration. The secessionists had apparently tied
the hands of the executive effectually.

Now observe what was going on in the cabinet. Lewis Cass had been
Secretary of State, but resigned in indignation over the inaction of
the President when he failed to succor the forts in Charleston Harbor.
He was succeeded by Jeremiah S. Black, who, as attorney-general, had
given to Buchanan an opinion that the Federal government had no power
to coerce a seceding state.

Howell Cobb, Secretary of the Treasury, having wasted the funds and
destroyed the credit of the government, resigned and left an empty

John B. Floyd, Secretary of War, was not the least active. He carried
out fully the plan which Jefferson Davis had begun to operate several
years before. The northern arsenals were stripped of the arms and
ammunition which were sent South for storage or use. The number of
regular troops was small, but the few soldiers there were, he scattered
in distant places, so that they should be out of reach. They were not
to be available for the use of the government until the conspirators
should have time to complete their work. It was Floyd whom an emotional
Virginian later eulogized. With quite as much truth as poetry he
declared that the Secretary of War "thwarted, objected, resisted, and
forbade" the efforts of General Scott. This same admirer of Floyd
further declared that, if Scott's plans had been adopted and his
measures executed, the conspiracy would have been defeated and it would
have been impossible to form the Southern Confederacy.

Not worse, perhaps, but more flagrant, was the action of the Secretary
of the Interior, Thompson of Mississippi. With the advice and consent
of Buchanan, he left his post at Washington to visit North Carolina and
help on the work of secession, and then returned and resumed his
official prerogatives under the government he had sworn to sustain.
This is so grave a matter that a passage from the diary of Mr. Clingman
is here inserted, quoted by Nicolay and Hay: "About the middle of
December (1860) I had occasion to see the Secretary of the Interior on
some official business. On my entering the room, Mr. Thompson said to
me, 'Clingman, I am glad you have called, for I intended presently to
go up to the senate to see you. I have been appointed a commissioner by
the state of Mississippi to go down to North Carolina to get your state
to secede.' ... I said to him, 'I did not know you had resigned.' He
answered, 'Oh, no! I have not resigned.' 'Then,' I replied, 'I suppose
you resign in the morning.' 'No,' he answered, 'I do not intend to
resign, for Mr. Buchanan wished us all to hold on, and go out with him
on the 4th of March.' 'But,' said I, 'does Mr. Buchanan know for what
purpose you are going to North Carolina?' 'Certainly,' he said, 'he
knows my object.'" In the meanwhile, Isaac Toucey, the Secretary of the
Navy, had been prevailed on to put the navy out of reach. The armed
vessels were sent to the ends of the earth. At the critical period,
only two were available to the government. What was going on in
congress? That body was very busy doing nothing. Both senate and house
raised committees for the purpose of devising means of compromise. But
every measure of concession was promptly voted down by the body that
had appointed the committees. In the senate the slave power was in full
control. In the house the slave power was not in majority, but they
enjoyed this advantage that they were able to work together, while the
constituency of the free states were usually divided among themselves.
And in joint session the extreme pro-slavery men were always able to
prevent anything from being accomplished. This was all they wished.
They had sufficient pledges from the President that nothing would be
done before the 4th of March, and it was their belief that by that time
the new power would have so good a start that it could treat with the
United States on equal terms. On January 7, 1861, Senator Yulee, of
Florida, wrote: "By remaining in our places until the 4th of March, it
is thought we can keep the hands of Mr. Buchanan tied, and disable the
republicans from effecting any legislation which will strengthen the
hands of the incoming administration."

On December 14, thirty of the southern senators and representatives had
issued a circular to their constituents. They said that the argument
was exhausted, that all hope of relief was extinguished, that the
republicans would grant nothing satisfactory, and that the honor,
safety, and independence of the Southern people required the
organization of a Southern Confederacy.

South Carolina was the first to act. Six days later that state passed
the ordinance of secession.

Upon this, one of the extreme traitors was forced out of the cabinet.
Floyd, the mischievous Secretary of War, was displaced by Holt, a loyal
man. Floyd, however, had done nearly, if not quite, all the mischief he
could have done. Stanton had already replaced Black as Attorney-General.

The conspirators then held a caucus. It is supposed that this caucus
was held in one of the rooms of the Capitol. At all events it was held
in the city of Washington. It was composed of the extreme southern
congressmen. It decided to recommend immediate secession, the formation
of the Southern Confederacy, and, not least, that the congressmen
should remain in their seats to keep the President's hands tied. The
committee to carry out these plans consisted of Jefferson Davis,
Slidell, and Mallory. By the first day of February, seven states had
passed ordinances of secession.

This is about what was going on during the four months Lincoln was
waiting for the appointed time when he should enter upon his duties. It
was not unlike looking upon a house he was shortly to occupy, and
seeing vandals applying the torch and ax of destruction, while he was
not permitted to go to the rescue, all the while knowing that he would
be held accountable for the preservation of the structure. So Lincoln
saw this work of destruction going on at Washington. It was plain that
the mischief ought to be, and could be, stopped. But Buchanan would not
stop it, and Lincoln was, until March 4th, a private citizen and could
do nothing. The bitterest part of it was that all the burden would fall
on him. As soon as he should become President it would be his duty to
save the government which these men were now openly destroying.

Miss Tarbell has recorded a conversation between Lincoln and his friend
Judge Gillespie, which took place in Springfield early in January, in
which the former expressed his feelings upon the situation.
"Gillespie," said he, "I would willingly take out of my life a period
in years equal to the two months which intervene between now and the
inauguration, to take the oath of office now."


"Because every hour adds to the difficulties I am called upon to meet
and the present administration does nothing to check the tendency
towards dissolution. I, who have been called to meet this awful
responsibility, am compelled to remain here, doing nothing to avert it
or lessen its force when it comes to me.... Every day adds to the
situation and makes the outlook more gloomy. Secession is being
fostered rather than repressed.... I have read, upon my knees, the
story of Gethsemane, where the Son of God prayed in vain that the cup
of bitterness might pass from him. I am in the garden of Gethsemane
now, and my cup of bitterness is full to overflowing" (Tarbell, "Life
of Lincoln," II., 406).

It was indeed hard to keep his patience and self-control. He was
importuned for expressions of his views, for messages conciliatory to
the South, for some kind of a proclamation which might quiet the public
feeling. But he saw clearly that anything he might say at that time, no
matter how wise or conciliatory, would surely be misused as fuel to add
to the flames. While therefore he talked and wrote freely to his
friends, he made no public announcement. He merely referred to his
record. His opinions had been fully expressed in the debates with
Douglas and in other speeches. There were four important points as to
his future policy. The Union should be preserved, the Constitution
should be upheld, and the fugitive slave law (being a law) should be
enforced, but slavery should not be extended. These fully covered all
the necessary points of the subject, and beyond these he would not go.
He who would control others must first control himself. It is hard to
imagine a more severe test than this imposed on Lincoln during this
period of waiting. He made his preparations in silence, and not an
injudicious word escaped him. He left his home for Washington the 11th
day of February, but though he made several speeches on the way, he did
not outline his policy until he read his inaugural address on the 4th
of March.



The long period of waiting approached its end. Most of the states and
cities lying between Springfield and Washington invited him officially
to visit them on his way to the capital. It was decided that he should
accept as many as possible of these invitations. This would involve a
zigzag route and require considerable time. The invitation of
Massachusetts he declined on account of the pressure of time. Maryland
was conspicuous by its omission of courtesy. Two private citizens of
Baltimore invited him to dinner. That was all.

The presidential party consisted of about a dozen, all told. They were
to leave Springfield February 11, and to consume about two weeks on the
way. It was a dreary morning, partly drizzling, and partly snowing. A
large crowd of neighbors had assembled at the dingy railway station to
bid him good-by. The process of handshaking was interrupted by the
arrival of the train. After the party had entered the car, the
President reappeared on the rear platform. He raised his hand to speak,
but did not utter a word until the solemn silence became painful. Then,
with great tenderness and seriousness, he spoke as follows:

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

The speech was telegraphed, with substantial accuracy all over the
country, and was read with loving sympathy by millions of loyal
citizens. The words above given are the report as revised by Lincoln
himself, and first published in the _Century_ for December, 1887.

The party was in charge of Colonel Ward Hill Lamon, afterwards Marshal
of the District of Columbia. He was a trained athlete, a Hercules in
strength, a man who knew not what fear was, and, with an enthusiasm
akin to religious zeal, he was devoted to his chief soul and body. In
the words of a later Marshal, he "worshiped every bone in his body."

A few friends had accompanied the presidential party to Indianapolis,
where the first stop was made. After the address of welcome by Governor
Morton and the response, after the speech to the legislature, after the
reception and the handshaking, they were left in quiet in the Bates
House. These friends then took Lamon into a room, locked the door, and
in the most solemn and impressive manner laid upon him the
responsibilities of guarding Lincoln's person until they should reach
Washington. The scene was concluded by Dubois with a mixture of
solemnity and playfulness, who said: "Now, Lamon, we intrust the sacred
life of Mr. Lincoln to your keeping; and if you don't protect it, never
return to Illinois, for we will murder you on sight."

Neither the exhortation nor the threat were in the least needed by
Lamon, who was thoroughly alert. But it is of interest in this, that it
indicates that there was a wide-spread feeling that this journey was
fraught with unusual dangers.

Of course Lincoln made many brief speeches. These were closely scanned
in the hope of finding some premonition of his inaugural. But not one
such word escaped him. He complained that though he had in his day done
much hard work, this was the hardest work he had ever done,--to keep
speaking without saying anything. It was not quite true that he did not
say anything, for the speeches were thoughtful and full of interest.
But he did not anticipate his inaugural, and to that the popular
curiosity was alive. He did not say the things that were uppermost in
his mind.

At Indianapolis he asked pregnant questions: "What, then, is
'coercion'? What is 'invasion'?... If the United States should merely
hold and retake its own forts and other property [in South Carolina
that had seceded], and collect the duties on foreign importations, or
even withhold the mails from places where they were habitually
violated, would any, or all, of these things be 'invasion' or
'coercion'?... Upon what principle, what rightful principle, may a
state, being no more than one-fiftieth part of the nation in soil and
population, break up the nation, and then coerce a proportionally
larger subdivision of itself in the most arbitrary way? What mysterious
right to play tyrant is conferred on a district of country, with its
people, by merely calling it a state? Fellow-citizens, I am not
asserting anything. I am merely asking questions for you to consider."

At Trenton, New Jersey, historic in the annals of the revolutionary
war, he spoke with simple candor of the influence upon his life of
Weems' "Life of Washington," one of the first books he ever read. The
audience broke into cheers, loud and long, when he appealed to them to
stand by him in the discharge of his patriotic duty. "I shall
endeavor," said he, "to take the ground I deem most just to the North,
the East, the West, the South, and the whole country. I take it, I
hope, in good temper; certainly with no malice towards any section. I
shall do all that may be in my power to promote a peaceful settlement
of all our difficulties. The man does not live who is more devoted to
peace than I am, none who would do more to preserve it; but it may be
necessary to put the foot down firmly. And if I do my duty and do
right, you will sustain me, will you not?"

At Philadelphia he spoke in Independence Hall on Washington's Birthday,
and raised a flag. "Our friends," he said of it, "had provided a
magnificent flag of our country. They had arranged it so that I was
given the honor of raising it to the head of its staff. And when it
went up, I was pleased that it went to its place by the strength of my
own feeble arm. When, according to the arrangement, the cord was
pulled, and it flaunted gloriously to the wind without an accident, in
the bright glowing sunshine of the morning, I could not help hoping
that there was in the entire success of that beautiful ceremony at
least something of an omen of what is to come."

On this very day, President Buchanan, in Washington City, was
apologizing for permitting the American flag to be carried at the head
of a procession that was marching to celebrate the birthday of George

It was at Philadelphia that matters became more exciting. At that place
they were informed of a plot to assassinate the President as he passed
through Baltimore. This information came to them from a variety of
sources entirely independent, and the various stories so nearly agreed
in substance that they could not be disregarded. Most important of
these informants was Allan Pinkerton of Chicago, one of the most famous
detectives in the world. He had been personally with his assistants in
Baltimore and knew the details of the plot. But Lincoln was neither
suspicious nor timid, and was therefore disinclined to pay heed to the
warnings of Pinkerton.

At about this time the son of William H. Seward met Lincoln with
confidential communications from his father. This gave other evidences
of this plot, gathered by some detectives from New York City. These two
sets of detectives had worked on the case; each party entirely ignorant
of the other. Both got specific evidence of the plot.

It was remembered, too, that since leaving Springfield ten days before,
they had had at least two escapes. The track had been tampered with in
a manifest attempt to wreck the train. A hand grenade had been found in
one of the cars. It is not likely that this deadly machine was taken on
the train merely for fun.

The members of the party were deeply concerned about the Baltimore
revelations. But it was hard to get Lincoln to take them seriously.
With difficulty was he persuaded to follow Pinkerton's plan and enter
Washington secretly. He consented to do this really out of
consideration for the judgment of others, not that he shared their
apprehension. On one thing, however, Lincoln was firm. He had made
certain appointments for speaking _en route_ which he would not
abandon. His promise had been given and would be kept. One was the
flag-raising at Philadelphia, narrated above, and the other was to
address the legislature at Harrisburg. "Both these appointments," said
he, "I will keep _if it costs me my life_." These words suggest
that he may have realized more of the danger than he was willing to

There are also intimations of the same thing which will be noticed by
the careful reader of the speeches at Philadelphia and Harrisburg. In
declining to give a hint of the details of his proposed policy, he
said: "It were useless for me to speak of details of plans now; I shall
speak officially next Monday week, _if ever_. If I should not
speak then, it were useless for me to do so now."

Again: "If this country cannot be saved without giving up that
principle,--I was about to say that I would rather be _assassinated
on this spot_ than surrender it."

And finally: "I may have said something indiscreet. But I have said
nothing but what I am willing to live by, and, if it be the pleasure of
Almighty God, _die by_."

These veiled references would pass unnoticed by the crowd, but they
would be perfectly intelligible to those who knew of the warnings that
had just been received. Lincoln was not in the habit of using such
phrases, and the fact that he used them at this particular time can
hardly be explained as a mere coincidence. He took in the situation,
and--except for keeping the engagements already made--he submitted
meekly to Pinkerton's plans.

An incident occurred at Harrisburg which made a great stir in the
little party. This was nothing less than the loss of the manuscript of
the inaugural address. This precious document the President himself had
carried in a satchel. This satchel he had given to his son Robert to
hold. When Robert was asked for it, it was missing. He "_thought_
he had given it to a waiter--or somebody." This was one of the rare
occasions on which Lincoln lost control of his temper, and for about
one minute he addressed the careless young man with great plainness of

For obvious reasons it was not judicious to say much about this loss.
The President applied to Lamon for help. "Lamon," he whispered, "I have
lost my certificate of moral character written by myself. Bob has lost
my gripsack containing my inaugural address. I want you to help me find

Lamon, who knew Lincoln intimately, said that he never saw him so much
annoyed, nor, for the time, so angry. If the address were to be
published prematurely, it might be made the occasion of a vast amount
of mischief. Then, too, it was the product of much painstaking thought
and he had no duplicate copy.

Lincoln and Lamon instituted a search for the missing satchel and were
directed to the baggage-room of the hotel. Here they spied a satchel
that looked like the lost one. Lincoln tried the key. It fitted. With
great joy he opened it, and he found within--one bottle of whisky, one
soiled shirt, and several paper collars. So quickly from the sublime to
the ridiculous.

A little later the right satchel was found, and was not again entrusted
to Robert. The President kept it in his own hands. After the nervous
strain was over, the humor of the situation grew on the President, and
it reminded him of a little story.

A man had saved up his earnings until they reached the sum of fifteen
hundred dollars. This was deposited for safekeeping in a bank. The bank
failed and the man received as his share, ten per cent, or one hundred
and fifty dollars. This he deposited in another bank. The second bank
also failed and the poor fellow again received ten per cent, or fifteen
dollars. When this remnant of his fortune was paid over to him, he held
it in his hand, looking at it thoughtfully. Finally he said: "Now, I've
got you reduced to a portable shape, so I'll put you in my pocket."
Suiting the action to the word, Lincoln took his "certificate of moral
character" from the satchel and carefully put it in the inside pocket
of his vest. No further mishap came to that document.

The journey from Harrisburg to Washington was accomplished as planned,
with the assistance of certain officials of the railway and telegraph
companies. First all the wires leading out of Harrisburg were cut, so
that, if Lincoln's departure were discovered, the news could not be
communicated by telegraph. Then, after the reception, Lincoln, attended
by Lamon, left the hotel by a side door and was driven to the railway
station. Here they found waiting a special train consisting of one
baggage car and one passenger car. The track was for the time kept
entirely clear for this train. Arriving at Philadelphia they stopped
outside the station, where Pinkerton met them with a closed carriage in
readiness. They were driven rapidly across the city to the Washington
train which had been detained a few minutes for "a sick passenger and
one attendant." They entered the rear door of the sleeping car. The
"sick passenger" went to his berth at once and the attendant gave the
tickets to the conductor who did not even see the "sick passenger," and
who did not dream of what a precious life he was carrying. They arrived
at six o'clock in the morning at Washington City, where they were met
by Seward and Washburn and taken to Willard's Hotel.

The rest of the party came on schedule time. At Baltimore there was a
large crowd in waiting, but no disturbance. The news of the President's
arrival had been telegraphed over the country, and the band of
assassins were for the time helpless. Their intended victim had
escaped. There was no reason why they should create a disturbance.

Lincoln always regretted this "secret passage." He later came to
discount heavily the revelations of a professional spy. Long after, he
said: "I did not then, nor do I now, believe I should have been
assassinated had I gone through Baltimore as first contemplated, but I
thought it wise to run no risk where no risk was necessary."

It is positively asserted by Lamon, who knew whereof he spake, that
there was no time, from the moment of leaving Springfield to his death,
when Lincoln was free from danger of murder. Yet he never could be
prevailed on to accept precautions. What were the reasons for his
apparent carelessness?

It is almost certain that he realized, more than he would have his
friends know, that he was surrounded by dangers. He probably realized
this more keenly than they did. They could locate specific dangers, but
no man ever better understood the murderous spirit which underlay much
of the hatred towards this man who had never harmed a human being. He
felt that an escape from one danger might be simply running into
another more deadly. It was like dodging bullets on the field of
battle. He, better than they, realized that the unseen dangers were
greater than those which they thought they had discovered. The only
way, then, was to go straight ahead as if unmindful of all dangers.

Then, too, though Lincoln could understand dangers in the abstract, his
mind did not seem to be able to individualize them. He knew full well
that many persons wanted to kill him, but when it came to the point of
the murder being done by X, or Y, or Z, he did not believe it possible
that they would do such a thing.

These explanations are suggested. There may be others. But these two
conflicting and paradoxical facts must be kept in mind. All through his
public life he was oppressed with the belief that he would not live to
see the end of the national crisis. On the other hand, not all the
importunities of his most devoted friends could persuade him to guard
himself. In the light of what we now know, it is wonderful that he
escaped these plots for more than four years. Had he been more
cautious, he might not have escaped so long. At the same time, as we
shall presently see, had he heeded the last caution of his devoted
friend, he would not have been shot in 1865.



Beautiful for situation and beautiful in construction is the Washington
City of to-day. But it was not so in Lincoln's day. The proper
decoration of the city did not begin until Grant's administration. In
1861 it was comparatively a small city. Its population numbered only
about 65,000. The magnificent modern residences had not been built. The
houses were few, low, not handsome, with hideous spaces of unimproved
land lying between. The streets were not paved with asphalt. Some were
paved with cobble stones, and some consisted of plain aboriginal mud.
The dome of the Capitol was but half finished when Lincoln saw it for
the first time, and the huge derrick which surmounted it was painfully
suggestive of the gallows. The approach was not a well-kept lawn, but a
meadow of grass, ragged and ill-cared for.

Washington society was then, as always, composed of people of education
and social culture, but it was not such as would kindle the enthusiasm
of the patriot. From the time whereof the memory of man runneth not to
the contrary, it had been dominated by the slave power. The District of
Columbia is situated in a slave state. The politics of South Carolina
and Mississippi had always been aggressive, and the social leadership
had been the same. J. G. Holland estimated that not more than one in
five of the people in Washington in the winter of 1860-61 were glad to
have Lincoln come. He was not far from right. Lamon called the city "a
focus of political intrigue and corruption."

For many years, specifically since 1848, the slave power had been
masterful in Washington, while its despotic temper had grown
continually more assertive. The intellectual and moral atmosphere
became increasingly repulsive to those who believed in freedom, and
such people would not therefore choose that city as a place of

The departments were of course filled with employees in sympathy with
slavery. Pierce had been made President in 1853. The Missouri
Compromise had been repealed in 1854. Buchanan came into office in
1857. The crowning act of his administration was supporting the Kansas
infamy in 1859. From these indications it is easy to estimate the
political status of Washington society when Lincoln entered the city
February 23, 1861. Many thousands of his friends poured in from all
quarters north of Mason and Dixon's line to attend the ceremonies of
the inaugural. But these were transients, and foreign to the prevailing
sentiment of the city.

Every official courtesy, however, was shown to the President-elect. The
outgoing President and cabinet received him politely. He had many
supporters and some personal friends in both houses of congress. These
received him with enthusiasm, while his opponents were not uncivil. The
members of the Supreme Court greeted him with a measure of cordiality.
Both Douglas and Breckinridge, the defeated candidates at the late
election, called on him. The so-called Peace Conference had brought
together many men of local influence, who seized the opportunity of
making his acquaintance. So the few days passed busily as the time for
inauguration approached.

Of course anxiety and even excitement were not unknown. One instance is
enough to relate here. Arrangements were about concluded for the
cabinet appointments. The most important selection was for the
Secretary of State. This position had been tendered to Seward months
before and had by him been accepted. The subsequent selections had been
made in view of the fact that Seward was to fill this position. On
Saturday, March 2d, while only a few hours remained before the
inaugural, Seward suddenly withdrew his promised acceptance. This
utterly upset the balancings on which Lincoln had so carefully worked
for the last four months, and was fitted to cause consternation.
Lincoln's comment was: "I can't afford to have Seward take the first
trick." So he sent him an urgent personal note on the morning of March
4th, requesting him to withdraw this refusal. Seward acceded to this
and the matter was arranged satisfactorily.

The morning of the day of the inauguration was clear, mild, beautiful.
The military display gave a bright and showy appearance to the scene.
General Scott had used the utmost care to have the arrangements for the
defense of the President perfect. There were guards about the carriage,
guards about the Capitol, a flying battery upon a commanding hill.
Besides this, sharpshooters were posted on the roofs of the houses
along the route of travel, with injunctions to watch narrowly the
windows opposite and fire upon the first manifestation of disorder. One
cannot resist the temptation to speculate upon the excitement that
would have developed had a mischievous boy set off a large fire-cracker
at a critical moment!

Shortly after twelve o'clock, noon, Buchanan called to escort his
successor to the Capitol. The retiring President and the President-
elect rode side by side through the streets. Reaching the grounds of
the Capitol they found an improvised board tunnel through which they
walked arm in arm to the building. This tunnel had been constructed to
guard against assassination, of which there had recently been many
threats. They passed through the senate chamber and through the
building to the large platform which had been erected at the east
front. The procession was headed by the justices of the Supreme Court
clothed in cap and gown.

The platform was densely packed, but in the number there were four men
of especial interest. When Lincoln had first been nominated for the
senate, at Springfield, June 16, 1858, he made the speech which came to
be known as "the house-divided-against-itself speech." One remarkable
paragraph is here quoted:

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

The manifest reference here is to the co-workers for the extension of
slavery: namely, Stephen A. Douglas, Franklin Pierce, Roger B. Taney,
and James Buchanan. One of this number, Franklin, had fallen into
welcome oblivion; James had escorted Lincoln to the platform; Stephen
stood immediately behind him, alert to show him any courtesy; and
Roger, as Chief Justice, was about to administer the oath of office. It
was a rare case of poetic justice.

Lincoln was introduced to the vast audience by his former neighbor, E.
D. Baker, at this time senator from Oregon. In one hand Lincoln had his
silk hat, and as he looked about for a place to put it, his old
antagonist, Douglas, took it. To a lady he whispered: "If I can't be
President, I can at least hold the President's hat."

The inaugural address had been submitted confidentially to a few
trusted friends for criticism. The only criticisms of importance were
those of Seward. By these Lincoln was guided but not governed. A
perusal of the documents will show that, while Seward's suggestions
were unquestionably good, Lincoln's finished product was far better.
This is specifically true of the closing paragraph, which has been
widely admired for its great beauty. From the remarkable address we
quote only two passages. In the first he meets the charge that he would
involve the country in war. It is as follows:

"I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon
me, that the laws of the Union shall be faithfully executed in all the
states. Doing this, which I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, I
shall perfectly perform it, so far as is practicable, unless my
rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisition,
or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will
not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the
Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

"In doing this, there need be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall
be none unless it is forced upon the national authority. _The power
confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property
and places belonging to the government, and collect the duties and
imposts._ But beyond what may be necessary for these objects there
will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people

Concerning the clause above italicised there was a general
questioning,--Does he mean what he says? In due time they learned that
he meant what he said, and all of it.

The address concluded as follows:

"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. You
have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I
shall have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and defend' it.

"I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be
enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break, our bonds
of affection. The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battle-
field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over
this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again
touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

The address was listened to closely throughout. Immediately upon its
conclusion the speaker was sworn into office by Chief Justice Taney
whose name is connected with the famous Dred Scott decision. James
Buchanan was now a private citizen and the pioneer rail-splitter was at
the head of the United States.

In all the thousands of people there assembled, there was no one who
listened more intently than Stephen A. Douglas. At the conclusion he
warmly grasped the President hand's, congratulated him upon the
inaugural, and pledged him that he would stand by him and support him
in upholding the Constitution and enforcing the laws. The nobler part
of the nature of the "little giant" came to the surface. The clearness,
the gentleness, the magnanimity, the manliness expressed in this
inaugural address of his old rival, won him over at last, and he
pledged him here his fealty. For a few months, while the storm was
brewing, Douglas was inactive, so that his influence counted on the
side of the hostile party, the party to which he had always belonged.
But when war actually broke out, he hastened to stand by the President,
and right nobly did he redeem his promise which he had given. Had he
lived, there are few men whose influence would have been more weighty
in the cause of the Union. An untimely death cut him off at the
beginning of this patriotic activity. His last public act was to
address to the legislature of Illinois a masterly plea for the support
of the war for the Union. He died in Chicago on the 3d of June, 1861.



Had the question been asked early in 1861, Who will be the real force
of the republican administration? almost every unprejudiced observer
would have answered promptly, Seward. He was a man of unusual
intellectual powers, of the best education, and of the finest culture.
In regard to the moral aspects of politics, he was on the right side.
He had a career of brilliant success extending over thirty years of
practical experience. He had been governor of the Empire State, and one
of the leading members of the United States senate. He was the most
accomplished diplomatist of the day.

In marked contrast was the President-elect. He had, in his encounters
with Douglas, shown himself a master of debate. But his actual
experience of administration was practically _nil_. He had served
a few years in a frontier legislature and one term in the lower house
of congress. Only this and nothing more. His record as representative
may be summarized as follows:

  1 comic speech on General Cass.

  1 set of humorous resolutions, known as the spot resolutions.

  1 bill in reference to slavery in the District of Columbia, which
  bill failed to pass.

There was thus no comparison between the careers of the two men.
Seward's friends, and Seward himself, assumed as a self-evident truth,
that "where Seward sits is the head of the table." Lincoln did not
assent to this proposition.

He considered himself President and head of the cabinet. How the matter
came out will appear later in the chapter.

The selection of a cabinet was a difficult and delicate task. It must
be remembered that Lincoln confronted a solid South, backed by a
divided North. It has already been said that in fifteen states he
received not a single electoral vote, and in ten of these not a single
popular vote. That was the solid South.

The divided condition of the North may be inferred from the following
letter, written by ex-President Franklin Pierce to Jefferson Davis
under date of January 6, 1860:

"If, through the madness of Northern abolitionists, that dire calamity
[the disruption of the Union] must come, the fighting will not be along
Mason and Dixon's line merely. It will be _within our own borders, in
our own streets_, between the two classes of citizens to whom I have
referred. Those who defy law, and scout constitutional obligation,
will, if we ever reach the arbitrament of arms, find occupation enough
at home."

It is plain that unless Lincoln could, in a large measure, unite the
various classes of the North, his utter failure would be a foregone
conclusion. He saw this with perfect clearness. His first move was in
the selection of his cabinet. These selections were taken not only from
the various geographical divisions of the country, but also from the
divers political divisions of the party. It was not his purpose to have
the secretaries simply echoes of himself, but able and representative
men of various types of political opinion. At the outset this did not
meet the approval of his friends. Later, its wisdom was apparent. In
the more than a hundred years of cabinets in the history of the United
States there has never been an abler or a purer cabinet than this.

As guesses, more or less accurate, were made as to what the cabinet
would be, many "leading citizens" felt called on to labor with the
President and show him the error of his ways. As late as March 2d there
was an outbreak against Chase. A self-appointed committee, large in
numbers and respectable in position, called on Lincoln to protest
vigorously. He heard them with undivided attention. When they were
through he replied. In voice of sorrow and disappointment, he said, in
substance: "I had written out my choice and selection of members for
the cabinet after most careful and deliberate consideration; and now
you are here to tell me I must break the slate and begin the thing all
over again. I don't like your list as well as mine. I had hoped to have
Mr. Seward as Secretary of State and Mr. Chase as Secretary of the
Treasury. But of course I can't expect to have things just as I want
them.... This being the case, gentlemen, how would it do for us to
agree to a change like this? To appoint Mr. Chase Secretary of the
Treasury, and offer the State department to Mr. Dayton of New Jersey?

"Mr. Dayton is an old whig, like Mr. Seward and myself. Besides, he is
from New Jersey, which is next door to New York. Then Mr. Seward can go
to England, where his genius will find wonderful scope in keeping
Europe straight about our troubles."

The "committee" were astounded. They saw their mistake in meddling in
matters they did not understand. They were glad enough to back out of
the awkward situation. Mr. Lincoln "took _that_ trick."

The names sent on March 5th were: for Secretary of State, William H.
Seward, of New York; for Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, of
Ohio; for Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, of Pennsylvania; for
Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, of Connecticut; for Secretary of
the Interior, Caleb B. Smith of Indiana; for Attorney-General, Edward
Bates, of Missouri; for Postmaster-General, Montgomery Blair, of

All these names were confirmed by the senate the next day, March 6th.
Of the variety of the selection he said, "I need them all. They enjoy
the confidence of their several states and sections, and they will
strengthen the administration. The times are too grave and perilous for
ambitious schemes and rivalries." To all who were associated with him
in the government, he said, "Let us forget ourselves and join hands,
like brothers, to save the republic. If we succeed, there will be glory
enough for all." He playfully spoke of this cabinet as his happy

The only one who withdrew early from this number, was Cameron. He was
accused of various forms of corruption, especially of giving fat
government contracts to his friends. Whether these charges were true or
not, we cannot say. But in the following January he resigned and was
succeeded by Edwin M. Stanton, a lifelong democrat, one who had
accepted office under Buchanan. Probably no person was more amazed at
this choice than Stanton himself. But he patriotically accepted the
call of duty. With unspeakable loyalty and devotion he served his chief
and his country to the end.

As has already been indicated, Seward cheerfully assumed that he was
the government, while Lincoln's duties were to consist largely in
signing such papers as he instructed him to sign. As difficulties grew
fast and thick, he wrote home, "These cares fall chiefly on me." Mr.
Welles wrote that confidence and mutual frankness existed among all the
members of the cabinet, "with the exception of Mr. Seward, who had, or
affected, a mysterious knowledge which he was not prepared to impart."
He went so far as to meddle with the affairs of his associates. He did
not entirely approve of the cabinet meetings and served notice that he
would attend only upon special summons of the President.

This condition reached its climax on the first day of April, an
appropriate date. Seward addressed on that day a document entitled,
"Some Thoughts for the President's Consideration, April 1, 1861."

Henry Watterson said that Seward could not have spoken more explicitly
and hardly more offensively if he had simply said: "Mr. Lincoln, you
are a failure as President, but turn over the direction of affairs
exclusively to me, and all shall be well and all be forgiven." This
statement gives a fair and truthful idea of Seward's letter. It is not
likely that its amazing assurance has ever been equaled in any nation
by "thoughts" addressed by an inferior officer to his chief. The paper
itself is here omitted from lack of space, but its tenor can be guessed
from the character of the reply, which is given in full:

  EXECUTIVE MANSION, April 1, 1881.


"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 foreign.'"

"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 St. 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 propositions 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 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 ob't serv't,

The courtesy, the convincing logic, the spirit of forbearance shown in
this letter, were characteristic of the man at the helm. It need hardly
be said that Seward never again tried the experiment of patronizing his
chief. He saw a great light. He suddenly realized that these cares did
not fall chiefly on him.

So far as is known, neither gentleman ever made any reference to this
correspondence. The result was worth while. It bound Seward to his
President with hoops of steel. For four long, weary, trying years he
served his chief with a loyal devotion which did credit to both men.
Thus the hallucination that he was premier was forever dispelled. The
"Public Man" wrote: "There can be no doubt of it any longer. This man
from Illinois is not in the hands of Mr. Seward."

There was surely no doubt of it. Lincoln was President. In the
councils, the place where Lincoln sat was the head of the table. Seward
was his secretary. And a good secretary he was, as well as a true man.



The events connected with the fall of Fort Sumter were so dramatic that
that name is in memory linked with, and stands for, the opening of the
war. The fort was not a large military structure. The number of men
defending it was not great. But the events connected with it were
great. It stood as the representative of great principles and facts.
The firing on it marked an epoch in the same sense as Caesar's crossing
the Rubicon. It is vitally connected with events that precede and

Wendell Phillips says that when Charles Sumner entered the senate, free
speech could hardly be said to exist there. To him, as much as to any
man, was due the breaking of the chain that fettered free speech. On
all important subjects he spoke his mind eloquently and in words that
were not ambiguous. In August, 1852, he made a speech--the more
accurate phrase would be, he delivered an oration--under the title,
"Freedom National, Slavery Sectional." It may easily be guessed that
this highly incensed the slave power and the fire-eaters never outgrew
their hatred of the Massachusetts senator.

In May, 1856, he delivered an excoriating address upon "the Crime
against Kansas." This greatly angered the southern congressmen. After
the senate had adjourned, Sumner was seated at his desk writing.
Preston S. Brooks, of South Carolina, approached from the rear and with
a heavy cane began to beat Sumner on the head. He was not only
defenseless, but, though a powerful man in body, was to a certain
extent held down by his desk, and it was only as he wrenched the desk
from the floor that he was able to rise. The beating had been terrible
and Sumner suffered from it, often with the most excruciating pains,
until the day of his death. This ruffian attack was by a large portion
of the North looked on as an exhibition of southern chivalry, so
called, and not entirely without reason as the sequel showed. Congress
censured Brooks _by a divided vote_. He resigned but was reelected
by his constituents with great enthusiasm. Thus his act was by them
adopted as representative of their spirit and temper. This was his

South Carolina was the first state to secede, and since Fort Sumter
commanded Charleston Harbor, it instantly became the focus of national
interest. The Secretary of War, Floyd, had so dispersed the little army
of the United States that it was impossible to command the few hundred
men necessary adequately to garrison the United States forts. As
matters in and about Charleston grew threatening, Major Anderson, who
was in command of the twin forts, Moultrie and Sumter, decided to
abandon the former and do his utmost to defend the latter. The removal
was successfully accomplished in the night, and when the fact was
discovered it was greeted by the South Carolinians with a howl of
baffled wrath. Buchanan had endeavored to send provisions. The steamer,
_Star of the West_, had gone there for that purpose, but had been
fired on by the South Carolinians and forced to abandon the attempt.

When Lincoln took the government at Washington, it may well be believed
that he found matters in a condition decidedly chaotic. His task was
many sided, a greater task than that of Washington as he had justly
said. First, of the fifteen slave states seven had seceded. It was his
purpose to hold the remaining eight, or as many of them as possible. Of
this number, Delaware and Maryland could have been held by force.
Kentucky and Missouri, though slave states, remained in the Union. The
Union party in Tennessee, under the lead of Andrew Johnson, made a
strong fight against secession, but failed to prevent the ordinance.

The next task of Lincoln was to unite the North as far as possible. The
difficulty of doing this has already been set forth. On the other hand
there was in the North a sentiment that had been overlooked. It was
devotion to the flag. Benjamin F. Butler, though an ardent democrat,
had cautioned his southern brethren that while they might count on a
large pro-slavery vote in the North, war was a different matter. The
moment you fire on the flag, he said, you unite the North; and if war
comes, slavery goes.

Not the least task of the President was in dealing with foreign
nations. The sympathies of these, especially England and France, were
ardently with the South. They would eagerly grasp at the slightest
excuse for acknowledging the Southern Confederacy as an independent
nation. It was a delicate and difficult matter so to guide affairs that
the desired excuse for this could not be found.

The tactics of the southerners were exceedingly exasperating. They kept
"envoys" in Washington to treat with the government. Of course these
were not officially received. Lincoln sent them a copy of his inaugural
address as containing a sufficient answer to their questions. But they
stayed on, trying to spy out the secrets of the government, trying to
get some sort of a pledge of conciliation from the administration, or,
what would equally serve the purpose, to exasperate the administration
into some unguarded word or act. Their attempts were a flat failure.

Lincoln held steadily to the two promises of his inaugural. First, that
he would hold the United States forts, and second, that he would not be
the aggressor. "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. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the
government; while I have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and
defend' it."

To this plan he adhered. It there was to be war it must be begun by the
enemies of the country, and the government would patiently bear
outrages rather than do a thing which could be tortured into an
appearance of 'invading the South' or being an aggressor of any sort.

Meanwhile, Major Anderson was beleaguered in Fort Sumter. He had a
handful of men, 76 combatants and 128 all told. He had insufficient
ammunition and was nearly out of provisions. Lincoln at last concluded
to "send bread to Sumter,"--surely not a hostile act. Owing to
complications which he inherited from Buchanan's administration he had
given to Governor Pickens, of South Carolina, a promise that he would
not attempt to relieve Sumter without first giving him notice. He now
sent him notice that there would be an attempt to provision Sumter
peaceably if possible, or otherwise by force.

All this while the southerners were busy perfecting their
fortifications, which were now overwhelmingly better, both in number
and in completeness of appointment, than the one fort held by the
United States that rightfully controlled the entire harbor. General
Beauregard was in command of the military forces. He sent to Major
Anderson a summons to surrender. The latter replied that if he received
from Washington no further direction, and if he was not succored by the
15th of the month, April, he would surrender on honorable terms. It is
characteristic of the southern general that he intercepted Major
Anderson's mail before notifying him of hostilities. It is
characteristic of Lincoln that he sent notice to Governor Pickens of
the intended provision of the fort.

On Friday, April 12th, 1861, at 3:30 P. M., General Beauregard gave
notice to Major Anderson that he would open fire on Fort Sumter in one
hour. Promptly at the minute the first gun was fired and the war had
begun. Batteries from various points poured shot and shell into Sumter
until nightfall caused a respite.

The little garrison sat up half the night after the attack, as they had
done the preceding night, and with their six needles, all they had,
made cartridges out of old blankets, old clothing, and whatever else
they could lay hands on. These one hundred and twenty-eight men made
all the defense that could be made under the circumstances.

The next day the officer's quarters were set on fire either by an
exploding shell or by hot shot. The men fought the flames gallantly,
but the wind was unfavorable. Then the water tanks were destroyed. As
the flames approached the magazine, the powder had to be removed. As
the flames approached the places where the powder was newly stored, it
had to be thrown into the sea to prevent explosion. In the mean time
the stars and stripes were floating gloriously. The flag pole had been
struck seven times on Friday. It was struck three times the next day.
The tenth shot did the work, the pole broke and the flag fell to the
ground at one o'clock Saturday afternoon. An officer and some men
seized the flag, rigged up a jury-mast on the parapet, and soon it was
flying again.

But ammunition was gone, the fire was not extinguished, and there was
no hope of relief. Negotiations were opened and terms of surrender were
arranged by eight o'clock that evening. The next day, Sunday, April
14th, the garrison saluted the flag as it was lowered, and then marched
out, prisoners of war. Sumter had fallen.

Beauregard was a military man, Lincoln was a statesman. The general got
the fort, the President got nearly everything else. The war was on and
it had been begun by the South. The administration had not invaded or
threatened invasion, but the South had fired on the flag. Dearly they
paid for this crime.

The effect of the fall of Sumter was amazing. In the South it was
hailed with ecstatic delight, especially in Charleston. There was a
popular demonstration at Montgomery, Ala., the provisional seat of the
Confederate government. L. P. Walker, Confederate Secretary of War,
made a speech and, among other things, said that "while no man could
tell where the war would end, he would prophesy that the flag which now
flaunts the breeze here, would float over the dome of the old Capitol
at Washington before the end of May," and that "it might eventually
float over Fanueil Hall itself." The Confederate government raised a
loan of eight millions of dollars and Jefferson Davis issued letters of
marque to all persons who might desire to aid the South and at the same
time enrich themselves by depredations upon the commerce of the United

The effect upon the North was different. There was a perfect storm of
indignation against the people who had presumed to fire on the flag.
Butler's prediction proved to be nearly correct. This did unite the
North in defense of the flag. Butler was a conspicuous example of this
effect. Though a Breckinridge democrat, he promptly offered his
services for the defense of the country, and throughout the war he had
the distinction of being hated by the South with a more cordial hatred
than any other Union general.

It was recollected throughout the North that Lincoln had been
conciliatory to a fault towards the South. Conciliation had failed
because that was not what the South wanted. They wanted war and by them
was war made. This put an end forever to all talk of concession and
compromise. Douglas was one of the many whose voice called in trumpet
tones to the defense of the flag.

At the date of the fall of Sumter, Lincoln had been in office less than
six weeks. In addition to routine work, to attending to extraordinary
calls in great numbers, he had accomplished certain very important
things: He had the loyal devotion of a cabinet noted for its ability
and diversity. He had the enthusiastic confidence of the doubtful minds
of the North. He had made it impossible for the European monarchies to
recognize the South as a nation. So far as our country was concerned,
he might ask for anything, and he would get what he asked. These were
no mean achievements. The far-seeing statesman had played for this and
had won.

Beauregard got the fort, but Lincoln got the game. In his own words,
"he took _that_ trick."



The fall of Sumter caused an outburst of patriotism through the entire
North such as is not witnessed many times in a century. On Sunday
morning, April 14th, it was known that terms of surrender had been
arranged. On that day and on many succeeding Sundays the voices from a
thousand pulpits sounded with the certainty of the bugle, the call to
the defense of the flag. Editors echoed the call. Such newspapers as
were suspected of secession tendencies were compelled to hoist the
American flag. For the time at least, enthusiasm and patriotism ran
very high. Those who were decidedly in sympathy with the South remained
quiet, and those who were of a doubtful mind were swept along with the
tide of popular feeling. The flag had been fired on. That one fact
unified the North.

On that same evening Senator Douglas arranged for a private interview
with President Lincoln. For two hours these men, rivals and antagonists
of many years, were in confidential conversation. What passed between
them no man knows, but the result of the conference was quickly made
public. Douglas came out of the room as determined a "war democrat" as
could be found between the oceans. He himself prepared a telegram which
was everywhere published, declaring that he would sustain the President
in defending the constitution.

Lincoln had prepared his call for 75,000 volunteer troops. Douglas
thought the number should have been 200,000. So it should, and so
doubtless it would, had it not been for certain iniquities of
Buchanan's mal-administration. There were no arms, accouterments,
clothing. Floyd had well-nigh stripped the northern arsenals. Lincoln
could not begin warlike preparations on any great scale because that
was certain to precipitate the war which he so earnestly strove to

Further, the 75,000 was about five times the number of soldiers then in
the army of the United States. Though the number of volunteers was
small, their proportion to the regular army was large.

That night Lincoln's call and Douglas's endorsement were sent over the
wires. Next morning the two documents were published in every daily
paper north of Mason and Dixon's line.

The call for volunteer soldiers was in the South greeted with a howl of
derision. They knew how the arsenals had been stripped. They had also
for years been quietly buying up arms not only from the North, but also
from various European nations. They had for many years been preparing
for just this event, and now that it came they were fully equipped.
During the first months of the war the administration could not wisely
make public how very poorly the soldiers were armed, for this would
only discourage the defenders of the Union and cheer the enemy.

This call for troops met with prompt response. The various governors of
the northern states offered many times their quota. The first in the
field was Massachusetts. This was due to the foresight of ex-Governor
Banks. He had for years kept the state militia up to a high degree of
efficiency. When rallied upon this he explained that it was to defend
the country against a rebellion of the slaveholders which was sure to

The call for volunteers was published on the morning of April 15th. By
ten o'clock the 6th Massachusetts began to rendezvous. In less than
thirty-six hours the regiment was ready and off for Washington. They
were everywhere cheered with much enthusiasm. In New York they were
guests of the Astor House, whose patriotic proprietor would receive no
compensation from the defenders of the flag.

The reception in Baltimore was of a very different sort. Some ruffians
of that city had planned to assassinate Lincoln in February, and now
they in large numbers prepared to attack the soldiers who were
hastening to the defense of the national capital. Here was the first
bloodshed of the war. The casualties were four killed and thirty-six
wounded. When the regiment reached Washington City, the march from the
railway station was very solemn. Behind the marching soldiers followed
the stretchers bearing the wounded. The dead had been left behind.
Governor Andrew's despatch to Mayor Brown,--"Send them home
tenderly,"--elicited the sympathy of millions of hearts.

The mayor of Baltimore and the governor of Maryland sent a deputation
to Lincoln to ask that no more troops be brought through that city. The
President made no promise, but he said he was anxious to avoid all
friction and he would do the best he could. He added playfully that if
he granted that, they would be back next day to ask that no troops be
sent around Baltimore.

That was exactly what occurred. The committee were back the next day
protesting against permitting any troops to cross the state of
Maryland. Lincoln replied that, as they couldn't march around the
state, nor tunnel under it, nor fly over it, he guessed they would have
to march across it.

It was arranged that for the time being the troops should be brought to
Annapolis and transported thence to Washington by water. This was one
of the many remarkable instances of forbearance on the part of the
government. There was a great clamor on the part of the North for
vengeance upon Baltimore for its crime, and a demand for sterner
measures in future. But the President was determined to show all the
conciliation it was possible to show, both in this case and in a
hundred others.

These actions bore good fruit. It secured to him the confidence of the
people to a degree that could not have been foreseen. On the 22d of
July, 1861, Mr. Crittenden, of Kentucky, offered the following

"_Resolved by the House of Representatives of the United States_,
That the present deplorable civil war has been forced upon the country
by the disunionists of the Southern States, now in arms against the
Constitutional Government and in arms around the capital:

"That in this national emergency, congress, banishing all feelings of
mere passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole

"That this war is not waged on their part in any spirit of oppression,
or for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, or purpose of
overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions
of those states, but to defend and maintain the _supremacy_ of the
Constitution, and to preserve the Union with all the dignity, equality,
and rights of the several states unimpaired; and that, as soon as these
objects are accomplished, the war ought to cease."

This resolution was passed with only two dissenting votes. Lincoln's
patience, forbearance, conciliation had accomplished this marvel.

Very early in the war the question of slavery confronted the generals.
In the month of May, only about two months after the inauguration,
Generals Butler and McClellan confronted the subject, and their methods
of dealing with it were as widely different as well could be. When
Butler was in charge of Fortress Monroe three negroes fled to that
place for refuge. They said that Colonel Mallory had set them to work
upon the rebel fortifications. A flag of truce was sent in from the
rebel lines demanding the return of the negroes. Butler replied: "I
shall retain the negroes as _contraband of war_. You were using
them upon your batteries; it is merely a question whether they shall be
used for or against us." From that time the word _contraband_ was
used in common speech to indicate an escaped slave.

It was on the 26th day of the same month that McClellan issued to the
slaveholders a proclamation in which are found these words: "Not only
will we abstain from all interference with your slaves, but we will, on
the contrary, with an iron hand crush any attempt at insurrection on
their part." It is plain that McClellan's "we" did not include his
brother-general at Fortress Monroe. Further comment on his attitude is
reserved to a later chapter.

The early victims of the war caused deep and profound sympathy. The
country was not yet used to carnage. The expectancy of a people not
experienced in war was at high tension, and these deaths, which would
at any time have produced a profound impression, were emphatically
impressive at that time.

One of the very first martyrs of the war was Elmer E. Ellsworth. He was
young, handsome, impetuous. At Chicago he had organized among the
firemen a company of Zouaves with their spectacular dress and drill.
These Zouaves had been giving exhibition drills in many northern cities
and aroused no little interest. One result was the formation of similar
companies at various places. The fascinating Zouave drill became quite

In 1861 Ellsworth was employed in the office of Lincoln and Herndon in
Springfield. When the President-elect journeyed to Washington
Ellsworth, to whom Lincoln was deeply attached, made one of the party.
At the outbreak of hostilities he was commissioned as colonel to raise
a regiment in New York. On the south bank of the Potomac, directly
opposite Washington, was Alexandria. The keeper of the Mansion House,
in that place, had run up a secession flag on the mast at the top of
the hotel. This flag floated day after day in full sight of Lincoln and
Ellsworth and the others.

Ellsworth led an advance upon Alexandria on the evening of May 23d. The
rebels escaped. The next morning as usual, the secession flag floated
tauntingly from the Mansion House. Ellsworth's blood was up and he
resolved to take down that flag and hoist the stars and stripes with
his own hand. Taking with him two soldiers he accomplished his purpose.

Returning by a spiral stairway, he carried the rebel flag in his hand.
The proprietor of the hotel came out from a place of concealment,
placed his double-barreled shot-gun nearly against Ellsworth's body and
fired. The assassin was instantly shot down by private Brownell, but
Ellsworth was dead. The rebel flag was dyed in the blood of his heart.
Underneath his uniform was found a gold medal with the inscription,
_non solum nobus, sed pro patria_,--"not for ourselves only but for our

The body was removed to Washington City, where it lay in state in the
East room until burial. The President, amid all the cares of that busy
period, found time to sit many hours beside the body of his friend, and
at the burial he appeared as chief mourner.

This murder fired the northern imagination to a degree. The picture of
Ellsworth's handsome face was everywhere familiar. It is an easy guess
that hundreds, not to say thousands, of babies were named for him
within the next few months, and to this day the name Elmer, starting
from him, has not ceased to be a favorite.

A little more than two weeks later, on the 10th of June, the first real
battle of the war was fought. This was at Big Bethel, Va., near
Fortress Monroe. The loss was not great as compared with later battles,
being only eighteen killed and fifty-three wounded. But among the
killed was Major Theodore Winthrop, a young man barely thirty-three
years of age. He was the author of several successful books, and gave
promise of a brilliant literary career. He was a true patriot and a
gallant soldier. His death was the source of sorrow and anger to many
thousands of readers of "Cecil Dreeme."

It was two months later that General Lyon fell at Wilson's Creek, Mo.
He had been conspicuous for his services to the country before this
time. The battle was bitterly contested, and Lyon showed himself a
veritable hero in personal courage and gallantry. After three wounds he
was still fighting on, leading personally a bayonet charge when he was
shot for the fourth time, fell from his horse, and died immediately. It
was the gallant death of a brave soldier, that touches the heart and
fires the imagination.

These deaths, and such as these, occurring at the beginning of the war,
taught the country the painful truth that the cost of war is deeper
than can possibly be reckoned. The dollars of money expended, and the
lists of the numbers killed, wounded, and missing, do not fully express
the profound sorrow, the irreparable loss.



Lincoln was a man of great sagacity. Few statesmen have had keener
insight, or more true and sane foresight. While cordially recognizing
this, it is not necessary to claim for him infallibility. He had his

The morning after the evacuation of Fort Sumter he issued his call for
75,000 volunteers to serve for three months. We have seen that one
reason why the number was so small was that this was the largest number
that could possibly be clothed, armed, and officered at short notice.
Subsequent experience showed that the brief enlistment of three months
was an utterly inadequate period for so serious an insurrection. Did
Lincoln really think the rebellion could be put down in three months?
Why did he not save infinite trouble by calling for five-year
enlistments at the beginning?

For one thing, he had at that time no legal power to call for a longer
period of enlistment. Then he desired to continue the conciliatory
policy as long as possible, so as to avoid alienating the undecided in
both the North and the South. Had the first call been for 500,000 for
three years, it would have looked as if he intended and desired a long
and bloody war, and this would have antagonized large numbers of
persons. But it is probable that neither he nor the community at large
suspected the seriousness of the war. The wars in which the men then
living had had experience were very slight. In comparison with what
followed, they were mere skirmishes. How should they foresee that they
were standing on the brink of one of the longest, the costliest, the
bloodiest, and the most eventful wars of all history?

Virginia was dragooned into secession. She declined to participate in
the Charleston Convention. Though a slave state, the public feeling was
by a decided majority in favor of remaining in the Union. But after the
fall of Sumter she was manipulated by skilful politicians, appealed to
and cajoled on the side of prejudice and sectional feeling, and on
April 17th passed the ordinance of secession. It was a blunder and a
more costly blunder she could not have made. For four years her soil
was the theater of a bitterly contested war, and her beautiful valleys
were drenched with human blood.

Back and forth, over and over again, fought the two armies, literally
sweeping the face of the country with the besom of destruction. The
oldest of her soldiers of legal age were fifty-five years of age when
the war closed. The youngest were twelve years of age when the war
opened. Older men and younger boys were in the war, ay, and were killed
on the field of battle. As the scourge of war passed over that state
from south to north, from north to south, for four years, many an
ancient and proud family was simply exterminated, root and branch. Of
some of the noblest and best families, there is to-day not a trace and
scarcely a memory.

All this could not have been foreseen by these Virginians, nor by the
people of the North, nor by the clear-eyed President himself. Even the
most cautious and conservative thought the war would be of brief
duration. They were soon to receive a rude shock and learn that "war
is hell," and that _this_ war was here to stay. This revelation
came with the first great battle of the war, which was fought July 21,
1861, at Bull Run, a location not more than twenty-five or thirty miles
from Washington.

Certain disabilities of our soldiers should be borne in mind. Most of
them were fresh from farm, factory, or store, and had no military
training even in the militia. A large number were just reaching the
expiration of their term of enlistment and were homesick and eager to
get out of the service. The generals were not accustomed to handling
large bodies of men. To add to the difficulty, the officers and men
were entirely unacquainted with one another. Nevertheless most of them
were ambitious to see a little of real war before they went back to the
industries of peace. They saw far more than they desired.

It was supposed by the administration and its friends that one crushing
blow would destroy the insurrection, and that this blow was to be dealt
in this coming battle. The troops went to the front as to a picnic. The
people who thronged Washington, politicians, merchants, students,
professional men, and ladies as well, had the same eagerness to see a
battle that in later days they have to witness a regatta or a game of
football. The civilians, men and women, followed the army in large
numbers. They saw all they looked for and more.

The battle was carefully planned, and except for delay in getting
started, it was fought out very much as planned. It is not the scope of
this book to enter into the details of this or any battle. But thus
much may be said in a general way. The Confederates were all the day
receiving a steady stream of fresh reinforcements. The Federals, on the
other hand, had been on their feet since two o'clock in the morning. By
three o'clock in the afternoon, after eleven hours of activity and five
hours of fighting in the heat of a July day in Virginia, these men were
tired, thirsty, hungry,--worn out. Then came the disastrous panic and
the demoralization. A large portion of the army started in a race for
Washington, the civilians in the lead.

The disaster was terrible, but there is nothing to gain by magnifying
it. Some of the oldest and best armies in the world have been broken
into confusion quite as badly as this army of raw recruits. They did
not so far lose heart that they were not able to make a gallant stand
at Centerville and successfully check the pursuit of the enemy. It was
said that Washington was at the mercy of the Confederates, but it is
more likely that they had so felt the valor of the foe that they were
unfit to pursue the retreating army. It was a hard battle on both
sides. No one ever accused the Confederates of cowardice, and they
surely wanted to capture Washington City. That they did not do so is
ample proof that the battle was not a picnic to them. It had been
boasted that one southern man could whip five northern men. This catchy
phrase fell into disuse.

It was natural and politic for the Confederates to magnify their
victory. This was done without stint by Jeff Davis who was present as a
spectator. He telegraphed the following:

"Night has closed upon a hard-fought field. Our forces were victorious.
The enemy was routed and fled precipitately, abandoning a large amount
of arms, ammunition, knapsacks, and baggage. The ground was strewed for
miles with those killed, and the farmhouses and the ground around were
filled with wounded. Our force was fifteen thousand; that of the enemy
estimated at thirty-five thousand."

That account is sufficiently accurate except as to figures. Jeff Davis
never could be trusted in such circumstances to give figures with any
approach to accuracy. Lossing estimates that the Federal forces were
13,000, and the Confederates about 27,000. This is certainly nearer the
truth than the boast of Jeff Davis. But a fact not less important than
the numbers was that the Confederate reinforcements were fresh, while
the Federal forces were nearly exhausted from marching half the night
before the fighting began.

Although the victorious forces were effectively checked at Centerville,
those who fled in absolute rout and uncontrollable panic were enough to
give the occasion a lasting place in history. The citizens who had gone
to see the battle had not enjoyed their trip. The soldiers who had
thought that this war was a sort of picnic had learned that the foe was
formidable. The administration that had expected to crush the
insurrection by one decisive blow became vaguely conscious of the fact
that the war was here to stay months and years.

It is a curious trait of human nature that people are not willing to
accept a defeat simply. The mind insists on explaining the particular
causes of that specific defeat. Amusing instances of this are seen in
all games: foot-ball, regattas, oratorical contests. Also in elections;
the defeated have a dozen reasons to explain why the favorite candidate
was not elected as he should have been. This trait came out somewhat
clamorously after the battle of Bull Run. A large number of plausible
explanations were urged on Mr. Lincoln, who finally brought the subject
to a conclusion by the remark: "I see. We whipped the enemy and then
ran away from him!"

The effect of the battle of Bull Run on the South was greatly to
encourage them and add to their enthusiasm. The effect on the North was
to deepen their determination to save the flag, to open their eyes to
the fact that the southern power was strong, and with renewed zeal and
determination they girded themselves for the conflict. But the great
burden fell on Lincoln. He was disappointed that the insurrection was
not and could not be crushed by one decisive blow. There was need of
more time, more men, more money, more blood. These thoughts and the
relative duties were to him, with his peculiar temperament, a severer
trial than they could have been to perhaps any other man living. He
would not shrink from doing his full duty, though it was so hard.

It made an old man of him. The night before he decided to send bread to
Sumter he slept not a wink. That was one of very many nights when he
did not sleep, and there were many mornings when he tasted no food. But
weak, fasting, worn, aging as he was, he was always at his post of
duty. The most casual observer could see the inroads which these mental
cares made upon his giant body. It was about a year later than this
that an old neighbor and friend, Noah Brooks of Chicago, went to
Washington to live, and he has vividly described the change in the
appearance of the President.

In _Harper's Monthly_ for July, 1865, he writes: "Though the
intellectual man had greatly grown meantime, few persons would
recognize the hearty, blithesome, genial, and wiry Abraham Lincoln of
earlier days in the sixteenth President of the United States, with his
stooping figure, dull eyes, careworn face, and languid frame. The old
clear laugh never came back; the even temper was sometimes disturbed;
and his natural charity for all was often turned into unwonted
suspicion of the motives of men, whose selfishness caused him so much
wear of mind."

Again, the same writer said in _Scribner's Monthly_ for February, 1878:
"There was [in 1862] over his face an expression of sadness, and a
faraway look in the eyes, which were utterly unlike the Lincoln of
other days.... I confess that I was so pained that I could almost have
shed tears.... By and by, when I knew him better, his face was often
full of mirth and enjoyment; and even when he was pensive or gloomy,
his features were lighted up very much as a clouded alabaster vase
might be softly illuminated by a light within."

He still used his epigram and was still reminded of "a little story,"
when he wished to point a moral or adorn a tale. But they were
superficial indeed who thought they saw in him only, or chiefly, the
jester. Once when he was reproved for reading from a humorous book he
said with passionate earnestness that the humor was his safety valve.
If it were not for the relief he would die. It was true. But he lived
on, not because he wanted to live, for he would rather have died. But
it was God's will, and his country needed him.



There were so many dark hours in that war, and those hours were so
dark, that it is difficult to specify one as the darkest hour. Perhaps
a dozen observers would mention a dozen different times. But Lincoln
himself spoke of the complication known as the Trent affair as the
darkest hour. From his standpoint it was surely so. It was so because
he felt the ground of public confidence slipping out from under him as
at no other time. The majority of the North were with him in sentiment
for the most part. A goodly number were with him all the time,--except
this. This time, Charles Sumner, the Chairman of the Senate Committee
on Foreign Relations, was in agreement with him, but beyond that,
everybody was against him, North and South, and all Europe as well.
Upon him fell the task of turning the very turbulent current of public
sentiment into the channel of duty and wisdom.

The facts of the affair were simple. Two men, Mason and Slidell, both
ex-senators of the United States, had started, with their secretaries
and families, to England and France as emissaries of the Confederate
government. These countries had already recognized the Confederates as
belligerents, and the mission of these men was to secure the
recognition of the Confederate government as a nation. They succeeded
in running the blockade at Charleston and put in at Havana. There they
were received with much ostentation. They took passage on the British
mail steamer _Trent_ to St. Thomas, intending to take the packet thence
to England.

Captain Wilkes, commanding a war vessel of the United States, was in
the neighborhood and learned of these proceedings and plans. He stopped
the British vessel on the high seas and by force took the two men and
their secretaries. They were confined in Fort Warren, Boston Harbor.

This capture set the entire North ablaze with enthusiasm. Seward was in
favor of it. Stanton, who a few weeks later was appointed Secretary of
War, applauded the act. Welles, Secretary of the Navy, wrote a
congratulatory letter upon the "great public service." The people of
Boston tendered a banquet to the hero of the hour. When congress
assembled about a month later, it gave him a vote of thanks. This wave
of public enthusiasm swept the country from ocean to ocean. The
southern sympathies of England and France had been so pronounced that
this whole country seemed to unite in hilarious triumph over this
capture, and regarded it as a slap in the face to England's pride. The
fact that the complications threatened war with that nation only added
fuel to the flames.

The excitement ran highest among the soldiers. Camp life had become
monotonous, no decisive victories had raised their courage and
enthusiasm. They were tired. They were exasperated with England's
policy. They wanted to fight England.

The feeling upon the other side of the question ran equally high in the
South, in England, and in France. As soon as the matter could receive
official attention, the British minister at Washington was instructed
to demand the instant release of the four men with a suitable apology.
He was to wait seven days for an answer, and if the demand was not met
by that time, he was to break off diplomatic relations with the United
States. This of course meant war.

Sumner seems to have been the only other one who said, "We shall have
to give them up." Lincoln, when he heard of the capture, declared that
they would prove to be white elephants on our hands. "We shall have to
give them up," he too said. But the difficulty was to lead the excited
nation to see the need of this as he saw it. He declared that "we
fought Great Britain for doing just what Captain Wilkes has done. If
Great Britain protests against this act and demands their release, we
must adhere to our principles of 1812. We must give up these prisoners.
Besides, one war at a time." He again said that it was "the bitterest
pill he ever swallowed. But England's triumph will not last long. After
this war is over we shall call her to account for the damage she has
done us in our hour of trouble."

The policy of the government with regard to this matter was not settled
in the cabinet meeting until the day after Christmas. Public enthusiasm
by that time had had six weeks in which to cool down. In that time the
sober second judgment had illuminated many minds, and the general
public was ready to see and hear reason. The outline of the reply of
the United States was directed by Lincoln, but he instructed Seward to
choose his own method of arguing the case. The reply was set forth in a
very able and convincing paper. It reaffirmed our adhesion to the
doctrine of 1812, said that Captain Wilkes had not done in an orderly
way that which he did, promised that the prisoners would be cheerfully
set at liberty, but declined to make any apology.

At this late date we are able to look somewhat behind the scenes, and
we now know that the Queen and the Prince consort were very deeply
concerned over the possibility of a war with us. They had only the
kindest feelings for us, and just then they felt especially grateful
for the many courtesies which had been shown to the Prince of Wales
upon his recent visit to this country. They were glad to get through
with the incident peaceably and pleasantly.

Seward's reply was accepted as fully satisfactory. The English
concurred, the Americans concurred, and the danger was over. There was
then something of a revulsion of feeling. The feeling between our
government and that of England was more cordial than before, and the
same is true of the feeling between the two peoples. The South and
their sympathizers were bitterly disappointed. The wise management of
our President had turned one of the greatest dangers into a most
valuable success. There was never again a likelihood that England would
form an alliance with the Southern Confederacy.

The result was most fortunate for us and unfortunate for the southern
emissaries. They were no longer heroes, they were "gentlemen of
eminence," but not public functionaries. They were like other
travelers, nothing more. They were not received at either court. They
could only "linger around the back doors" of the courts where they
expected to be received in triumph, and bear as best they could the
studied neglect with which they were treated. The affair, so ominous at
one time, became most useful in its practical results to our cause.
Lord Palmerston, the British premier, got the four prisoners, but
Lincoln won the game.

This is a convenient place to speak of the personal griefs of the
President. From his earliest years on, he was wonderfully affected by
the presence of death. Very few people have had this peculiar feeling
of heart-break with such overwhelming power. The death of his infant
brother in Kentucky, the death of his mother in Indiana, impressed him
and clouded his mind in a degree entirely unusual. We have seen that in
Springfield the death of Ann Rutledge well-nigh unseated his reason.
From these he never recovered.

The horror of war was that it meant death, death, death! He, whose
heart was tender to a fault, was literally surrounded by death. The
first victim of the war, Colonel Ellsworth, was a personal friend, and
his murder was a personal affliction. There were others that came near
to him. Colonel E. D. Baker, an old friend and neighbor of Lincoln, the
man who had introduced him at his inaugural, was killed at Ball's Bluff
Oct. 21, 1861. Baker's personal courage made him conspicuous and marked
him out as a special target for the enemy's aim. While gallantly
leading a charge, he fell, pierced almost simultaneously by four
bullets. It fell upon Lincoln like the death of a brother. He was
consumed with grief.

The following February his two boys, Willie and Tad, were taken ill.
Lincoln's fondness for children was well known. This general love of
children was a passion in regard to his own sons. In this sickness he
not only shared the duties of night-watching with the nurse, but at
frequent intervals he would slip away from callers, and even from
cabinet meetings, to visit briefly the little sufferers. Willie died on
February 20th, and for several days before his death he was delirious.
His father was with him almost constantly.

This is one of the few instances when he could be said to neglect
public business. For a few days before, and for a longer period after,
Willie's death, he was completely dejected. Though he was a devout
Christian, in spirit and temper, his ideas of personal immortality were
not at that time sufficiently clear to give him the sustaining help
which he needed under his affliction.

J. G. Holland records a pathetic scene. This was communicated to him by
a lady whose name is not given. She had gone to Washington to persuade
the President to have hospitals for our soldiers located in the North.
He was skeptical of the plan and was slow to approve it. His hesitation
was the occasion of much anxiety to her. When he finally granted the
petition, she thanked him with great earnestness and said she was sure
he would be happy that he had done it. He sat with his face in his
hands and groaned: "Happy? I shall never be happy again!"

Below all his play of wit and humor, there was an undercurrent of
agony. So great were his kindness, gentleness, tenderness of heart,
that he could not live in this cruel world, especially in the period
when the times were so much out of joint, without being a man of
sorrows. The present writer never saw Lincoln's face but twice, once in
life and once in death. Both times it seemed to him, and as he
remembers it after the lapse of more than a third of a century, it
still seems to him, the saddest face his eyes have ever looked upon.



In a community like that of the United States, where free press and
free, speech prevail, where every native-born boy is a possible
President, some undesirable results are inevitable. The successful men
become egotistic, and it is a common, well-nigh universal, practise for
all sorts and conditions of men to speak harshly of the authorities. In
the loafers on the street corners, in the illiterate that use the
country store as their club, in the very halls of congress, are heard
the most unsparing criticisms and denunciations of the administration.
These unwarranted comments fell thick and fast on Lincoln, because he
was at the post of responsibility in a critical period, a time of
general unrest. Self-appointed committees of business men, politicians,
clergymen, editors, and what not, were continually telling him what to
do and how to do it. Not a few of even the generals caught the

It is not possible nor desirable to tell of Lincoln's relations with
many of the eminent men with whom he dealt. But a few will be selected
--Fremont, McClellan, Greeley, and Grant--in order to explain some of
the difficulties which were continually rising up before him, and by
showing how he dealt with them to illustrate certain phases of his
character. This chapter will treat of Fremont.

At the outbreak of the war he was the most conspicuous military man in
the North. He had earned the gratitude of the country for distinguished
services in California, and he was deservedly popular among the
republicans for his leadership of the party in 1856. He was at the best
period of life, being forty-eight years of age. His abilities were
marked, and he possessed in an unusual degree the soldierly quality of
inspiring enthusiasm. If he could turn all his powers into the channel
of military efficiency, he would be the man of the age. He had the
public confidence, and he had such an opportunity as comes to few men.

At the opening of the war he was in Paris and was at once summoned
home. He arrived in this country about the first of July and was by the
President appointed Major-General in the regular army. On the 3d of
July he was assigned to the Western department with headquarters at St.
Louis. This department included the state of Illinois and extended as
far west as the Rocky Mountains.

At that time the condition of affairs in Missouri was distressful and
extremely threatening. The state of Missouri covers a very large
territory, 69,415 square miles, and it was imperfectly provided with
railroads and other means of communication. Private bands of marauders
and plunderers were numerous and did a great amount of damage among
law-abiding citizens. There were also several insurgent armies of no
mean dimensions threatening the state from the southwest. There were
good soldiers and officers there in defense of the Union, but they were
untried, insufficiently armed and accoutered, unprovided with means of
transportation, and, above all, they were in need of a commanding
general of sagacity, daring, and personal resources. Fremont seemed to
be just the man for the important post at that critical hour.

Generals Lyon, Hunter, and others, were sore pressed in Missouri. They
needed the presence of their commander and they needed him at once.
Fremont was ordered to proceed to his post immediately. This order he
did not obey. He could never brook authority, and he was not in the
habit of rendering good reasons for his acts of disobedience. Though he
was aware that the need of his presence was urgent, he dallied about
Washington a long time and then proceeded west with leisure, arriving
in St. Louis nearly three weeks later than he should have done. These
three weeks were under the circumstances time enough for an
incalculable amount of damage, enough to make all the difference
between success and failure. It was long enough to insure the death (on
August 10th) of that brave soldier, General Lyon, and long enough to
account for many other disasters.

One of the most annoying things with which the subordinate generals had
to contend, was that about this time the term of service of the men who
had enlisted for three months was beginning to expire. Many of these
reenlisted, and many did not. It was not possible to plan an expedition
of any sort when it was probable that a large portion of the command
would be out of service before it was completed. There was need of a
master hand at organizing and inspiring loyalty.

Though Fremont had so unaccountably delayed, yet when he came he was
received with confidence and enthusiasm. Lincoln gave to him, as he did
to all his generals, very nearly a _carte blanche_. His instructions
were general, and the commander was left to work out the details in
his own way. All that he required was that something should be done
successfully in the prosecution of the war. The country was not a
judge of military plans; it was a judge of military success and
failure. They expected, and they had a right to expect, that Fremont
should do something more than keep up a dress parade. Lincoln laid on
him this responsibility in perfect confidence.

The first thing Fremont accomplished in Missouri was to quarrel with
his best friends, the Blair family. This is important chiefly as a
thermometer,--it indicated his inability to hold the confidence of
intelligent and influential men after he had it. About this time
Lincoln wrote to General Hunter a personal letter which showed well how
things were likely to go:--

"My dear Sir: General Fremont needs assistance which it 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. His cardinal
mistake is that he isolates himself and allows no one to see him; and
by which he does not know what is going on in the very matter he is
dealing with. He needs to have by his side a man of large experience.
Will you not, for me, take that place?"

It was Louis XV. who exclaimed, "_L'etat? C'est moi!_" "The state?
_I'm_ the state!" The next move of Fremont can be compared only with
that spirit of the French emperor. It was no less than a proclamation
of emancipation. This was a civic act, while Fremont was an officer of
military, not civil, authority. The act was unauthorized, the President
was not even consulted. Even had it been a wise move, Fremont would
have been without justification because it was entirely outside of his
prerogatives. Even had he been the wisest man, he was not an autocrat
and could not have thus transcended his powers.

But this act was calculated to do much mischief. The duty of the hour
was to save the Union. Fremont's part in that duty was to drive the
rebels out of Missouri. Missouri was a slave state. It had not seceded,
and it was important that it should not do so. The same was true of
Kentucky and Maryland. It is easy to see, upon reading Fremont's
proclamation, that it is the work not of a soldier, but of a
politician, and a bungling politician at that.

When this came to the knowledge of the President he took prompt
measures to counteract it in a way that would accomplish the greatest
good with the least harm. He wrote to the general:

"Allow me, therefore, to ask that you will, as of your own motion,
modify that paragraph so as to conform to the first and fourth sections
of the act of congress entitled, 'An act to confiscate property used
for insurrectionary purposes,' approved August 6, 1861, and a copy of
which act I herewith send you. This letter is written in a spirit of
caution, and not of censure."

But Fremont was willing to override both President and congress, and
declined to make the necessary modifications. This placed him, with
such influence as he had, in direct antagonism to the administration.
That which ought to have been done by Fremont had to be done by
Lincoln, upon whom was thrown the onus of whatever was objectionable in
the matter. It did give him trouble. It alienated many of the extreme
abolitionists, including even his old neighbor and friend, Oscar H.
Browning. They seemed to think that Lincoln was now championing
slavery. His enemies needed no alienation, but they made adroit use of
this to stir up and increase discontent.

So matters grew no better with Fremont, but much worse for three
months. The words of Nicolay and Hay are none too strong: "He had
frittered away his opportunity for usefulness and fame; such an
opportunity, indeed, as rarely comes."

On October 21st, the President sent by special messenger the following
letter to General Curtis at St. Louis:

"DEAR SIR: On receipt of this, with the accompanying enclosures, you
will take safe, certain, and suitable measures to have the inclosure
addressed to Major-General Fremont delivered to him with all reasonable
despatch, subject to these conditions only, that if, when General
Fremont shall be reached by the messenger,--yourself or any one sent by
you,--he shall then have, in personal command, fought and won a battle,
or shall then be in the immediate presence of the enemy in expectation
of a battle, it is not to be delivered but held for further orders."

The inclosure mentioned was an order relieving General Fremont and
placing Hunter temporarily in command. It is plain that the President
expected that there would be difficulties, in the way of delivering the
order,--that Fremont himself might prevent its delivery. General
Curtis, who undertook its delivery, evidently expected the same thing,
for he employed three different messengers who took three separate
methods of trying to reach Fremont. The one who succeeded in delivering
the order did so only because of his successful disguise, and when it
was accomplished Fremont's words and manner showed that he had expected
to head off any such order. This incident reveals the peril which would
have fallen to American institutions had he been more successful in his
aspirations to the presidency.

Fremont had one more chance. He was placed in command of a corps in
Virginia. There he disobeyed orders in a most atrocious manner, and by
so doing permitted Jackson and his army to escape. He was superseded by
Pope, but declining to serve under a junior officer, resigned. And that
was the end of Fremont as a public man. The fact that he had ceased to
be a force in American life was emphasized in 1864. The extreme
abolitionists nominated him as candidate for the presidency in
opposition to Lincoln. But his following was so slight that he withdrew
from the race and retired permanently to private life.

Yet he was a man of splendid abilities of a certain sort. Had he
practised guerilla warfare, had he had absolute and irresponsible
command of a small body of picked men with freedom to raid or do
anything else he pleased, he would have been indeed formidable. The
terror which the rebel guerilla General, Morgan, spread over wide
territory would easily have been surpassed by Fremont. But guerilla
warfare was not permissible on the side of the government. The aim of
the Confederates was destruction; the aim of the administration was
construction. It is always easier and more spectacular to destroy than
to construct.

One trouble with Fremont was his narrowness of view. He could not work
with others. If he wanted a thing in his particular department, it did
not concern him that it might injure the cause as a whole. Another
trouble was his conceit. He wanted to be "the whole thing," President,
congress, general, and judiciary. Had Lincoln not possessed the
patience of Job, he could not have borne with him even so long. The
kindness of the President's letter, above quoted, is eloquent testimony
to his magnanimity.



McClellan was a very different man from Fremont. Though he was as
nearly as possible opposite in his characteristics, still it was not
easier to get along with him. He was a man of brilliant talents, fine
culture, and charming personality. Graduating from West Point in 1846,
he went almost immediately into the Mexican War, where he earned his
captaincy. He later wrote a manual of arms for use in the United States
army. He visited Europe as a member of the commission of officers to
gather military information.

His greatest genius was in engineering, a line in which he had no
superior. He went to Illinois in 1857 as chief engineer of the Central
Railroad, the following year he became vice-president, and the year
after that president of the St. Louis and Cincinnati Railway. At the
outbreak of the war this captain was by the governor of Ohio
commissioned as major-general, and a few days later he received from
Lincoln the commission of major-general in the United States army.

He was sent to West Virginia with orders to drive out the rebels. This
he achieved in a brief time, and for it he received the thanks of
congress. He was, after the disaster at Bull Run, called to Washington
and placed in command of that portion of the Army of the Potomac whose
specific duty was the defense of the capital. He was rapidly promoted
from one position to another until age and infirmity compelled the
retirement of that grand old warrior, Winfield Scott, whereupon he was
made general-in-chief of the United States army. All this occurred in
less than four months. Four months ago, this young man of thirty-five
years was an ex-captain. To-day he is general-in-chief, not of the
largest army, but probably of the most intelligent army, the world has
ever seen. He would be almost more than human if such a sudden turn of
the wheel of fortune did not also turn his head.

It was Lincoln's habit to let his generals do their work in their own
ways, only insisting that they should accomplish visible and tangible
results. This method he followed with McClellan, developing it with
great patience under trying circumstances. On this point there is no
better witness than McClellan himself. To his wife he wrote, "They give
me my way in everything, full swing and unbounded confidence." Later he
expressed contempt for the President who "showed him too much
deference." He was a universal favorite, he became known as "the young
Napoleon," he had the confidence of the country and the loyal devotion
of the army, and the unqualified support of the administration. Of him
great things were expected, and reasonably so. In the power of
inspiring confidence and enthusiasm he was second only to Napoleon.

As an organizer and drill-master he was superb. The army after Bull Run
was as demoralized as an army could be. The recruits soon began to
arrive from the North, every day bringing thousands of such into
Washington. These required care and they must be put into shape for
effective service. This difficult task he accomplished in a way that
fully met the public expectation and reflected great credit upon

In defense he was a terrible fighter. That is to say, when he fought at
all--for he fought only in defense--he fought well. A distinguished
Confederate soldier said, "There was no Union general whom we so much
dreaded as McClellan. He had, as we thought, no equal." And they
declared they could always tell when McClellan was in command by the
way the men fought.

An illustrious comment on this is the splendid fighting at Antietam.
That was one of the greatest battles and one of the most magnificent
victories of the war. It showed McClellan at his best.

We know what the Army of the Potomac was previous to the accession of
McClellan. Let us see what it was after his removal. "McClellan was
retired," says the Honorable Hugh McCulloch, "and what happened to the
Army of the Potomac? Terrible slaughter under Burnside at
Fredericksburg; crushing defeat at Chancellorsville under Hooker." All
this shows that McClellan narrowly missed the fame of being one of the
greatest generals in history. But let us glance at another page in the

His first act, when in command at Cincinnati, was to enter into an
agreement with General Buckner that the state of Kentucky should be
treated as neutral territory. That agreement put that state into the
position of a foreign country, like England or China, when the very
purpose of the war was to insist that the United States was one nation.
This act was a usurpation of authority, and further, it was
diametrically wrong even had he possessed the authority.

His next notable act, one which has already been mentioned, was to
issue a proclamation in defense of slavery, promising to assist [the
rebels] to put down any attempt at insurrection by the slaves. This was
wrong. His duty was to conquer the enemy. It was no more his duty to
defend slavery than it was Fremont's to emancipate the slaves.

The next development of McClellan was the hallucination, from which he
never freed himself, that the enemy's numbers were from five to ten
times as great as they really were. "I am here," he wrote August 16,
1861, "in a terrible place; the enemy have from three to four times my
force. The President, the old general, cannot or will not see the true
state of affairs." At that time the "true state of affairs" was that
the enemy had from one-third to one-half his force. That is a fair
specimen of the exaggeration of his fears. That is, McClellan's
estimate was from six to twelve times too much.

At Yorktown he faced the Confederate Magruder, who commanded 11,000 all
told. Of this number, 6,000 were spread along a line of thirteen miles
of defense across the peninsula, leaving 5,000 for battle. McClellan's
imagination, or fears, magnified this into an enormous army. With his
58,000 effective troops he industriously prepared for defense, and when
the engineering work was accomplished thought he had done a great act
in defending his army. All the while he was calling lustily for
reinforcements from Washington. When Magruder was ready he retired with
his little army and McClellan's opportunity was gone.

At Antietam he won a brilliant victory, but he failed to follow it up.
There was a chance to annihilate the Confederate army and end the war.
To do that was nearly as important as it had been to win the victory.
To be sure his troops were worn, but as compared with the shattered
condition of the enemy, his army was ready for dress parade. So the
enemy was allowed to cross the Potomac at leisure, reform, reorganize,
and the war was needlessly prolonged. It was this neglect which, more
than any other one thing, undermined the general confidence in

Later, at second Bull Run he left Pope to suffer. It was clearly his
duty to reinforce Pope, but he only said that Pope had got himself into
the fix and he must get out as he could. He seemed to forget that there
never was a time when he was not calling for reinforcements himself.
This wanton neglect was unsoldierly, inhuman. He also forgot that this
method of punishing Pope inflicted severe punishment on the nation.

His chronic call for reinforcements, were it not so serious, would make
the motive of a comic opera. When he was in Washington, he wanted all
the troops called in for the defense of the city. When he was in
Virginia, he thought the troops which were left for the defense of the
city ought to be sent to reinforce him,--the city was safe enough! He
telegraphed to Governor Denison of Ohio to pay no attention to
Rosecrans' request for troops. He thought that 20,000, with what could
be raised in Kentucky and Tennessee, was enough for the Mississippi
Valley, while he needed 273,000. When he was insisting that Washington
should be stripped in order to furnish him with 50,000 additional men,
the President asked what had become of his more than 160,000; and in
his detailed reply he gave the item of 38,500 absent on leave. Here was
nearly the number of 50,000 which he asked for, if he would only call
them in.

Incidentally to all this were persistent discourtesies to the
President. He would sit silent in the cabinet meetings pretending to
have secrets of great importance. Instead of calling on the President
to report, he made it necessary for the President to call on him. At
other times he would keep the President waiting while he affected to be
busy with subordinates. Once indeed he left the President waiting while
he went to bed. All this Lincoln bore with his accustomed patience. He
playfully said, when remonstrated with, that he would gladly hold
McClellan's horse if he would only win the battles. This he failed to
do. And when he was finally relieved, he had worn out the patience not
only of the President, but of his army, and of the entire country. One
writer of the day said with much bitterness, but with substantial
truth, that "McClellan, with greater means at his command than
Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, or Wellington, has lost more men and means
in his disasters than they in their victories."

What were the defects of this remarkable man? In the first place, he
believed in slavery. At this late day it is difficult to realize the
devotion which some men had for slavery as a "divine institution,"
before which they could kneel down and pray, as if it was the very ark
of God. McClellan was one such. And it is not improbable that he early
had more than a suspicion that slavery was the real cause of all the
trouble. This would in part account for his hesitation.

Then there was a bitter personal hatred between him and Stanton. This
led him to resent all suggestions and orders emanating from the War
Department. It also made him suspicious of Stanton's associates,
including the President.

Then he seemed to lack the nerve for a pitched battle. He could do
everything up to the point of action, but he could not act. This lack
of nerve is a more common fact in men in all walks of life than is
usually recognized. He was unconquerable in defense, he did not know
the word _aggressive_. Had he possessed some of the nerve of Sheridan,
Hooker, Sherman, or any one of a hundred others, he would have been one
of the four great generals of history. But he could not be persuaded or
forced to attack. His men might die of fever, but not in battle. So far
as he was concerned, the Army of the Potomac might have been
reorganizing, changing its base, and perfecting its defenses against
the enemy, to this day.

A fatal defect was the endeavor to combine the military and the
political. Few men have succeeded in this. There were Alexander,
Caesar, Napoleon,--but all came to an untimely end; the first met an
early death in a foreign land, the second was assassinated, the third
died a prisoner in exile. McClellan and Fremont, with all their
splendid talents, made the fatal mistake. They forgot that for the time
they were only military men. Grant was not a politician until after his
military duties were ended.

The conclusion of the relations between Lincoln and McClellan was not
generally known until recently made public by Lincoln's intimate friend
Lamon. McClellan was nominated in 1864 for President by the democrats.
As election day approached it became increasingly clear that McClellan
had no chance whatever of being elected. But Lincoln wanted something
more than, and different from, a reelection. His desires were for the
welfare of the distracted country. He wanted peace, reconstruction,
prosperity. A few days before election he sent a remarkable proposition
through a common friend, Francis P. Blair, to McClellan. Mr. Blair was
in hearty sympathy with the plan.

This proposition set forth the hopelessness of McClellan's chances for
the presidency, which he knew perfectly well. It was then suggested
that McClellan withdraw from the contest and let the President be
chosen by a united North, which would bring the war to a speedy close
and stop the slaughter of men on both sides. The compensations for this
concession were to be: McClellan was to be promoted immediately to be
General of the Army, his father-in-law Marcy was to be appointed major-
general, and a suitable recognition of the democratic party would be
made in other appointments.

At first blush McClellan was in favor of the arrangement. It is
probable that if left to himself he would have acceded. The imagination
can hardly grasp the fame that would have come to "little Mac," and the
blessings that would have come to the reunited country, had this wise
plan of Lincoln been accepted. But McClellan consulted with friends who
advised against it. The matter was dropped,--and that was the end of
the history of McClellan. He had thrown away his last chance of success
and fame. All that followed may be written in one brief sentence: On
election day he resigned from the army and was overwhelmingly defeated
at the polls.



Much of the mischief of the world is the work of people who mean well.
Not the least of the annoyances thrust on Lincoln came from people who
ought to have known better. The fact that such mischief-makers are
complacent, as if they were doing what was brilliant, and useful, adds
to the vexation.

One of the most prominent citizens of the United States at the time of
the civil war was Horace Greeley. He was a man of ardent convictions,
of unimpeachable honesty, and an editorial writer of the first rank. He
did a vast amount of good. He also did a vast amount of mischief which
may be considered to offset a part of the good he accomplished.

His intellectual ability made it impossible for him to be anywhere a
nonentity. He was always prominent. His paper, the New York _Tribune_,
was in many respects the ablest newspaper of the day. Large numbers of
intelligent republicans took the utterances of the _Tribune_ as gospel

It is not safe for any man to have an excess of influence. It is not
surprising that the wide influence which Greeley acquired made him
egotistic. He apparently came to believe that he had a mortgage on the
republican party, and through that upon the country. His editorial
became dictatorial. He looked upon Lincoln as a protege of his own who
required direction. This he was willing to give,--mildly but firmly.
All this was true of many other good men and good republicans. But it
was emphatically true of Greeley.

If there is anything worse than a military man who plumes himself upon
his statesmanship, it is the civilian who affects to understand
military matters better than the generals, the war department, and the
commander-in-chief. This was Greeley. He placed his military policy in
the form of a war-cry,--"On to Richmond!"--at the head of his editorial
page, and with a pen of marvelous power rung the changes on it.

This is but one sample of the man's proneness to interfere in other
matters. With all the infallibility of an editor he was ever ready to
tell what the President ought to do as a sensible and patriotic man.
_He_ would have saved the country by electing Douglas, by permitting
peaceable secession, by persuading the French ambassador to intervene,
by conference and argument with the Confederate emissaries, and by
assuming personal control of the administration. At a later date he
went so far as to propose to force Lincoln's resignation. He did not
seem to realize that Lincoln could be most effective if allowed to do
his work in his own way. He did not grasp the truth that he could be of
the highest value to the administration only as he helped and
encouraged, and that his obstructions operated only to diminish the
efficiency of the government. If Greeley had put the same degree of
force into encouraging the administration that he put into hindering
its work, he would have merited the gratitude of his generation.

He was singularly lacking in the willingness to do this, or in the
ability to recognize its importance. Like hundreds of others he
persisted in expounding the duties of the executive, but his
patronizing advice was more harmful in proportion to the incisiveness
of his literary ability. This impertinence of Greeley's criticism
reached its climax in an open letter to Lincoln. This letter is, in
part, quoted here. It shows something of the unspeakable annoyances
that were thrust upon the already overburdened President, from those
who ought to have delighted in holding up his hands, those of whom
better things might have been expected. The reply shows the patience
with which Lincoln received these criticisms. It further shows the
skill with which he could meet the famous editor on his own ground; for
he also could wield a trenchant pen.

Greeley's letter is very long and it is not necessary to give it in
full. But the headings, which are given below, are quite sufficient to
show that the brilliant editor dipped his pen in gall in order that he
might add bitterness to the man whose life was already filled to the
brim with the bitter sorrows, trials, and disappointments of a
distracted nation. The letter is published on the editorial page of the
New York _Tribune_ of August 20, 1862.


"To ABRAHAM LINCOLN, _President of the United States_:

"DEAR SIR: I do not intrude to tell you--for you must know already--
that a great proportion of those who triumphed in your election, and
of all who desire the unqualified suppression of the Rebellion now
desolating our country, are sorely disappointed and deeply pained by
the policy you seem to be pursuing with regard to the slaves of the
Rebels. I write only to set succinctly and unmistakably before you
what we require, what we think we have a right to expect, and of what
we complain.

"I. We require of you, as the first servant of the Republic, charged
especially and preeminently with this duty, that you EXECUTE THE

"II. We think you are strangely and disastrously remiss in the
discharge of your official and imperative duty with regard to the
emancipating provisions of the new Confiscation Act...."

"III. We think you are unduly influenced by the counsels, the
representations, the menaces, of certain fossil politicians hailing
from the Border States...."

"IV. We think the timid counsels of such a crisis calculated to prove
perilous and probably disastrous...."

"V. We complain that the Union cause has suffered and is now suffering
immensely, from mistaken deference to Rebel Slavery. Had you, Sir, in
your Inaugural Address, unmistakably given notice that, in case the
Rebellion already commenced were persisted in, and your efforts to
preserve the Union and enforce the laws should be resisted by armed
force, you _would recognize no loyal person as rightfully held in
Slavery by a traitor_, we believe that the Rebellion would have
received a staggering, if not fatal blow...."

"VI. We complain that the Confiscation Act which you approved is
habitually disregarded by your Generals, and that no word of rebuke for
them from you has yet reached the public ear...."

"VII. Let me call your attention to the recent tragedy in New Orleans,
whereof the facts are obtained entirely through Pro-Slavery

"VIII. On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not one
disinterested, determined, intelligent champion of the Union Cause who
does not feel that all attempts to put down the Rebellion and at the
same time uphold its inciting cause are preposterous and futile--that
the Rebellion, if crushed out to-morrow, would be renewed within a year
if Slavery were left in full vigor--that the army of officers who
remain to this day devoted to Slavery can at best be but half way loyal
to the Union--and that every hour of deference to Slavery is an hour of
added and deepened peril to the Union...."

"IX. I close as I began with the statement that what an immense
majority of the Loyal Millions of your countrymen require of you is a
frank, declared, unqualified, ungrudging execution of the laws of the
land, more especially of the Confiscation Act.... As one of the
millions who would gladly have avoided this struggle at any sacrifice
but that of Principle and Honor, but who now feel that the triumph of
the Union is indispensable not only to the existence of our country,
but to the well-being of mankind, I entreat you to render a hearty and
unequivocal obedience to the law of the land."



"NEW YORK, August 19, 1862."

Those who are familiar with the eccentricities of this able editor will
not be slow to believe that, had Lincoln, previous to the writing of
that letter, done the very things he called for, Greeley would not
improbably, have been among the first to attack him with his caustic
criticism. Lincoln was not ignorant of this. But he seized this
opportunity to address a far wider constituency than that represented
in the subscription list of the _Tribune_. His reply was published
in the Washington _Star_. He puts the matter so temperately and
plainly that the most obtuse could not fail to see the reasonableness
of it. As to Greeley, we do not hear from him again, and may assume
that he was silenced if not convinced. The reply was as follows:



"DEAR SIR: I have just read yours of the 19th, addressed to myself
through the New York _Tribune_. If there be in it any statements,
or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now
and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may
believe to be falsely drawn, I do not, now and here, argue against
them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone,
I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always
supposed to be right. As to the policy I 'seem to be pursuing,' as you
say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the
Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The
sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the Union
will be 'the Union as it was.' If there be those who would not save the
Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree
with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they
could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My
paramount object 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; if I could save it by freeing all the
slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and
leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and
the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union:
and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to
save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am
doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe
doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when
shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall
appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my
view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft expressed
personal wish that all men everywhere could be free."



Not the least interesting fact connected with this subject is that at
this very time Lincoln had the Emancipation Proclamation in mind. But
not even the exasperating teasing that is fairly represented by
Greeley's letter caused him to put forth that proclamation prematurely.
It is no slight mark of greatness that he was able under so great
pressure to bide his time.

This was not the last of Greeley's efforts to control the President or
run the machine. In 1864 he was earnestly opposed to his renomination
but finally submitted to the inevitable.

In July of that year, 1864, two prominent Confederates, Clay of
Alabama, and Thompson of Mississippi, managed to use Greeley for their
purposes. They communicated with him from Canada, professing to have
authority to arrange for terms of peace, and they asked for a safe-
conduct to Washington. Greeley fell into the trap but Lincoln did not.
There is little doubt that their real scheme was to foment discontent
and secure division throughout the North on the eve of the presidential
election. Lincoln wrote to Greeley as follows:

"If you can find any person, anywhere, professing to have authority
from Jefferson Davis, in writing, embracing the restoration of the
Union and the abandonment of slavery, whatever else it embraces, say to
him that he may come to me with you."

Under date of July 18, he wrote the following:

"_To whom it may concern:_"

"Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity
of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery, and which comes by
and with an authority that can control the armies now at war with the
United States, will be received and considered by the Executive
government of the United States, and will be met on liberal terms on
substantial and collateral points; and the bearer or bearers thereof
shall have safe-conduct both ways."


Greeley met these "commissioners" at Niagara, but it turned out that
they had no authority whatever from the Confederate government. The
whole affair was therefore a mere fiasco. But Greeley, who had been
completely duped, was full of wrath, and persistently misrepresented,
not to say maligned, the President. According to Noah Brooks, the
President said of the affair:

"Well, it's hardly fair to say that this won't amount to anything. It
will shut up Greeley, and satisfy the people who are clamoring for
peace. That's something, anyhow." The President was too hopeful. It did
not accomplish quite that, for Greeley was very persistent; but it did
prevent a serious division of the North.



The institution of slavery was always and only hateful to the earnest
and honest nature of Lincoln. He detested it with all the energy of his
soul. He would, as he said, gladly have swept it from the face of the
earth. Not even the extreme abolitionists, Garrison, Wendell Phillips,
Whittier, abominated slavery with more intensity than Lincoln. But he
did not show his hostility in the same way. He had a wider scope of
vision than they. He had, and they had not, an appreciative historical
knowledge of slavery in this country. He knew that it was tolerated by
the Constitution and laws enacted within the provisions of the
Constitution, though he believed that the later expansion of slavery
was contrary to the spirit and intent of the men who framed the
Constitution. And he believed that slaveholders had legal rights which
should be respected by all orderly citizens. His sympathy with the
slave did not cripple his consideration for the slave-owner who had
inherited his property in that form, and under a constitution and laws
which he did not originate and for which he was not responsible.

He would destroy slavery root and branch, but he would do it in a
manner conformable to the Constitution, not in violation of it. He
would exterminate it, but he would not so do it as to impoverish law-
abiding citizens whose property was in slaves. He would eliminate
slavery, but not in a way to destroy the country, for that would entail
more mischief than benefit. To use a figure, he would throw Jonah
overboard, but he would not upset the ship in the act.

Large numbers of people have a limited scope of knowledge. Such
overlooked the real benefits of our civilization, and did not realize
that wrecking the constitution would simply destroy the good that had
thus far been achieved, and uproot the seeds of promise of usefulness
for the centuries to come. They wanted slavery destroyed at once,
violently, regardless of the disastrous consequences. On the other
hand, Lincoln wanted it destroyed, but by a sure and rational process.
He wished--and from this he never swerved--to do also two things:
first, to compensate the owners of the slaves, and second to provide
for the future of the slaves themselves. Of course, the extreme
radicals could not realize that he was more intensely opposed to
slavery than themselves.

Let us now glance at his record. We have already seen (in chapter V.)
how he revolted from the first view of the horrors of the institution,
and the youthful vow which he there recorded will not readily be
forgotten. That was in 1831 when he was twenty-two years of age.

Six years later, or in 1837, when he was a youthful member of the
Illinois legislature, he persuaded Stone to join him in a protest
against slavery. There was positively nothing to be gained by this
protest, either personally or in behalf of the slave. The only possible
reason for it was that he believed that slavery was wrong and could not
rest until he had openly expressed that belief. "A timely utterance
gave that thought relief, And I again am strong."

When he was in congress, in 1846, the famous Wilmot Proviso came up.
This was to provide "that, as an express and fundamental condition to
the acquisition of any territory from the republic of Mexico by the
United States ... neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever
exist in any part of the said territory." By reason of amendments, this
subject came before the house very many times, and Lincoln said
afterwards that he had voted for the proviso in one form or another
forty-two times.

On the 16th day of January, 1849, he introduced into congress a bill
for the emancipation of slavery in the District of Columbia. This was a
wise and reasonable bill. It gave justice to all, and at the same time
gathered all the fruits of emancipation in the best possible way. The
bill did not pass, there was no hope at the time that it would pass.
But it compelled a reasonable discussion of the subject and had a
certain amount of educational influence.

It is interesting that, thirteen years later, April 10, 1862, he had
the privilege of fixing his presidential signature to a bill similar to
his own. Congress had moved up to his position. When he signed the
bill, he said: "Little did I dream, in 1849, when I proposed to abolish
slavery in this capital, and could scarcely get a hearing for the
proposition, that it would be so soon accomplished."

After the expiration of his term in congress he left political life, as
he supposed, forever. He went into the practise of the law in earnest,
and was so engaged at the time of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
which called him back to the arena of politics.

In the early part of the war there were certain attempts at
emancipation which Lincoln held in check for the reason that the time
for them had not arrived. "There's a tide in the affairs of men." It is
of prime importance that this tide be taken at the flood. So far as
emancipation was concerned, this came in slower than the eagerness of
Generals Fremont and Hunter. But it was coming, and in the meantime
Lincoln was doing what he could to help matters on. The difficulty was
that if the Union was destroyed it would be the death-blow to the cause
of emancipation. At the same time not a few loyal men were
slaveholders. To alienate these by premature action would be
disastrous. The only wise plan of action was to wait patiently until a
sufficient number of these could be depended on in the emergency of
emancipation. This was what Lincoln was doing.

The first part of the year 1862 was very trying. The North had expected
to march rapidly and triumphantly into Richmond. This had not been
accomplished, but on the contrary disaster had followed disaster in
battle, and after many months the two armies were encamped facing each
other and almost in sight of Washington, while the soldiers from the
North were rapidly sickening and dying in the Southern camps. Small
wonder if there was an impatient clamor.

A serious result of this delay was the danger arising from European
sources. The monarchies of Europe had no sympathy with American
freedom. They became impatient with the reports of "no progress" in the
war, and at this time some of them were watching for a pretext to
recognize the Southern Confederacy. This came vividly to the knowledge
of Carl Schurz, minister to Spain. By permission of the President he
returned to this country--this was late in January, 1862--to lay the
matter personally before him. With the help of Schurz, Lincoln
proceeded to develop the sentiment for emancipation. By his request
Schurz went to New York to address a meeting of the Emancipation
Society on March 6th. It need not be said that the speaker delivered a
most able and eloquent plea upon "Emancipation as a Peace Measure."
Lincoln also made a marked contribution to the meeting. He telegraphed
to Schurz the text of his message to congress recommending emancipation
in the District of Columbia,--which resulted in the law already
mentioned,--and this message of Lincoln was read to the meeting. The
effect of it, following the speech of Schurz, was overwhelming. It was
quite enough to satisfy the most sanguine expectations. This was not a
coincidence, it was a plan. Lincoln's hand in _the whole matter_
was not seen nor suspected for many years after. It gave a marked
impetus to the sentiment of emancipation.

To the loyal slaveholders of the border states he made a proposal of
compensated emancipation. To his great disappointment they rejected
this. It was very foolish on their part, and he cautioned them that
they might find worse trouble.

All this time, while holding back the eager spirits of the
abolitionists, he was preparing for his final stroke. But it was of
capital importance that this should not be premature. McClellan's
failure to take Richmond and his persistent delay, hastened the result.
The community at large became impatient beyond all bounds. There came
about a feeling that something radical must be done, and that quickly.
But it was still necessary that he should be patient. As the bravest
fireman is the last to leave the burning structure, so the wise
statesman must hold himself in check until the success of so important
a measure is assured beyond a doubt.

An event which occurred later may be narrated here because it
illustrates the feeling which Lincoln always had in regard to slavery.
The item was written out by the President himself and given to the
newspapers for publication under the heading,


"On Thursday of last week, two ladies from Tennessee came before the
President, asking the release of their husbands, held as prisoners of
war at Johnson's Island. They were put off until Friday, when they came
again, and were again put off until Saturday. At each of the interviews
one of the ladies urged that her husband was a religious man. On
Saturday, when the President ordered the release of the prisoners, he
said to this lady: You say your husband is a religious man; tell him
when you meet him that I say I am not much of a judge of religion, but
that, in my opinion, the religion that sets men to rebel and fight
against their government because, as they think, that government does
not sufficiently help _some_ men to eat their bread in the sweat
of _other_ men's faces, is not the sort of religion upon which
people can get to heaven."

As the dreadful summer of 1862 advanced, Lincoln noted surely that the
time was at hand when emancipation would be the master stroke. In
discussing the possibilities of this measure he seemed to take the
opposite side. This was a fixed habit with him. He drew out the
thoughts of other people. He was enabled to see the subject from all
sides. Even after his mind was made up to do a certain thing, he would
still argue against it. But in any other sense than this he took
counsel of no one upon the emancipation measure. The work was his work.
He presented his tentative proclamation to the cabinet on the 22d of
July, 1862. The rest of the story is best told in Lincoln's own words:

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

The members of the cabinet offered various suggestions, but none which
Lincoln had not fully anticipated. Seward approved the measure but
thought the time not opportune. There had been so many reverses in the
war, that he feared the effect. "It may be viewed," he said, "as the
last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help; the government
stretching forth its hands to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching
forth her hands to the government." He then suggested that the
proclamation be not issued until it could be given to the country
supported by military successes. This seemed to Lincoln a wise
suggestion, and he acted on it. The document was laid away for the

It was not until September 17th that the looked-for success came. The
Confederate army had crossed the Potomac with the intention of invading
the North. They were met and completely defeated in the battle of
Antietam. Lincoln said of it: "When Lee came over the river, I made a
resolution that if McClellan drove him back I would send the
proclamation after him. The battle of Antietam was fought Wednesday,
and until Saturday I could not find out whether we had gained a victory
or lost a battle. It was then too late to issue the proclamation that
day; and the fact is I fixed it up a little Sunday, and Monday I let
them have it."

This was the preliminary proclamation and was issued September 22d. The
supplementary document, the real proclamation of emancipation, was
issued January 1, 1863. As the latter covers substantially the ground
of the former, it is not necessary to repeat both and only the second
one is given.


Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by
the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the
following, to wit:--

That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand
eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any
state, or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall then be
in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward
and forever free, and the Executive Government of the United States,
including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and
maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to
repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for
their actual freedom.

That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid by
proclamation, designate the states and part of states, if any, in which
the people thereof respectively shall then be in rebellion against the
United States; and the fact that any state, or the people thereof,
shall on that day be in good faith represented in the congress of the
United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority
of the qualified voters of such state shall have participated, shall,
in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive
evidence that such state and the people thereof are not then in
rebellion against the United States:--

_Now, therefore,_ I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United
States, by virtue of the power in me vested as commander-in-chief of
the army and navy of the United States, in time of actual armed
rebellion against the authority of, and government of, the United
States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said
rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my
purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed for the full period of one
hundred days from the day first above mentioned, order, and designate,
as the states and parts of states wherein the people thereof
respectively are this day in rebellion against the United States [here
follows the list].

And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order
and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated
states and parts of states, are and henceforward shall be free; and
that the executive government of the United States, including the
military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the
freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free, to abstain
from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense, and I recommend to
them, that in all cases, when allowed, they labor faithfully for
reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known that such persons of suitable
condition will be received into the armed service of the United States
to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man
vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice,
warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the
considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of almighty God.

_In Testimony whereof,_ I have hereunto set my name and caused the
seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this first day of January, in the year
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the
Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.


By the President:
  WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

So he fulfilled his youthful vow. He had hit that thing, and he had hit
it hard! From that blow the cursed institution of slavery will not
recover in a thousand years.



The middle period of the war was gloomy and discouraging. Though the
Confederates made no substantial progress they certainly held their
own. Time is an important factor in all history, and the fact that the
Confederates at least gained time counted heavily against the Union.
There were no decisive victories gained by the Federal troops.
Antietam, to be sure, was won, but the fruits of the victory were lost.
For many months the two armies continued facing each other, and for the
most part they were much nearer Washington than Richmond.

Meantime the summer, fall, winter were passing by and there was no
tangible evidence that the government would ever be able to maintain
its authority. All this time the Army of the Potomac was magnificent in
numbers, equipment, intelligence. In every respect but one they were
decidedly superior to the enemy. The one thing they needed was
leadership. The South had generals of the first grade. The generalship
of the North had not yet fully developed.

Lincoln held on to McClellan as long as it was possible to do so. He
never resented the personal discourtesies. He never wearied of the
fruitless task of urging him on. He never refused to let him have his
own way provided he could show a reason for it. But his persistent
inactivity wore out the patience of the country and finally of the army
itself. With the exception of northern democrats with southern
sympathies, who from the first were sure of only one thing, namely,
that the war was a failure, the clamor for the removal of McClellan was
well-nigh unanimous. To this clamor Lincoln yielded only when it became
manifestly foolish longer to resist it.

A succeeding question was no less important: Who shall take his place?
There was in the East no general whose record would entitle him to this
position of honor and responsibility. In all the country there was at
that time no one whose successes were so conspicuous as to point him
out as the coming man. But there were generals who had done good
service, and just at that time. Burnside was at the height of his
success. He was accordingly appointed. His record was good. He was an
unusually handsome man, of soldierly bearing, and possessed many
valuable qualities. He was warmly welcomed by the country at large and
by his own army, who thanked God and took courage.

His first battle as commander of the Army of the Potomac was fought at
Fredericksburg on the 15th of December and resulted in his being
repulsed with terrible slaughter. It is possible, in this as in every
other battle, that had certain things been a little different,--had it
been possible to fight the battle three weeks earlier,--he would have
won a glorious victory. But these thoughts do not bring to life the men
who were slain in battle, nor do they quiet the clamor of the country.
Burnside showed a certain persistence when, in disregard of the
unanimous judgment of his generals, he tried to force a march through
the heavy roads of Virginia, as sticky as glue, and give battle again.
But he got stuck in the mud and the plan was given up, the only
casualty, being the death of a large number of mules that were killed
trying to draw wagons through the bottomless mud. After this one
battle, it was plain that Burnside was not the coming general.

The next experiment was with Hooker, a valiant and able man, whose
warlike qualities are suggested by his well-earned soubriquet of
"fighting Joe Hooker." He had his limitations, as will presently
appear. But upon appointing him to the command Lincoln wrote him a
personal letter. This letter is here reproduced because it is a perfect
illustration of the kindly patience of the man who had need of so much



GENERAL: I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of
course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient
reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some
things in regard to which I am not satisfied with you. I believe you to
be a brave and skilful soldier, which of course I like. I also believe
that you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are
right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not
indispensable, quality. You are ambitious, which, within reason, 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 success can be 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 you have aimed 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.

  Yours, very truly,

The first effect of this letter was to subdue the fractious spirit of
the fighter. He said, "That is just such a letter as a father might
write to a son. It is a beautiful letter, and although I think he was
harder on me than I deserved, I will say that I love the man who wrote

But later his conceit took possession of him. According to Noah Brooks
he said to some friends: "I suppose you have seen this letter or a copy
of it?" They had. "After I have been to Richmond I shall have the
letter published in the newspapers. It will be amusing." When this was
told Lincoln he took the good-natured view of it and only said, "Poor
Hooker! I am afraid he is incorrigible."

It was in January, 1863, that Hooker took command of the army. Three
months later he had it in shape for the campaign, and Lincoln went down
to see the review. It was indeed a magnificent army, an inspiring
sight. But it was noticed by many that Lincoln's face had not the
joyous radiancy of hope which it had formerly worn; it was positively
haggard. It was plain that he did not share his general's easy
confidence. He could not forget that he had more than once seen an army
magnificent before battle, and shattered after battle. He spent a week
there, talking with the generals, shaking hands with "the boys." Many a
private soldier of that day carries to this day as a sacred memory the
earnest sound of the President's voice, "God bless you!"

Then came Chancellorsville with its sickening consequences. When the
news came to Washington, the President, with streaming eyes, could only
exclaim: "My God, my God! what will the country say?"

The next we hear of Hooker, he had not entered Richmond nor had he
found the amusement of publishing the President's fatherly letter. He
was chasing Lee in a northerly direction,--towards Philadelphia or New
York. He became angry with Halleck who refused him something and
summarily resigned. It was not, for the country, an opportune time for
changing generals, but perhaps it was as well. It certainly shows that
while Lincoln took him as the best material at hand, while he
counseled, encouraged, and bore with him, yet his diagnosis of Hooker's
foibles was correct, and his fears, not his hopes, were realized.

He was succeeded by George C. Meade, "four-eyed George," as he was
playfully called by his loyal soldiers, in allusion to his eyeglasses.
It was only a few days later that the great battle of Gettysburg was
fought under Meade, and a brilliant victory was achieved. But here, as
at Antietam, the triumph was bitterly marred by the disappointment that
followed. The victorious army let the defeated army get away. The
excuses were about the same as at Antietam,--the troops were tired. Of
course they were tired. But it may be assumed that the defeated army
was also tired. It surely makes one army quite as tired to suffer
defeat as it makes the other to achieve victory. It was again a golden
opportunity to destroy Lee's army and end the war.

Perhaps Meade had achieved enough for one man in winning Gettysburg. It
would not be strange if the three days' battle had left him with nerves
unstrung. The fact remains that he did not pursue and annihilate the
defeated army. They were permitted to recross the Potomac without
molestation, to reenter what may be called their own territory, to
reorganize, rest, reequip, and in due time to reappear as formidable as
ever. It is plain that the hero of Gettysburg was not the man destined
to crush the rebellion.

Here were three men, Burnside, Hooker, and Meade, all good men and
gallant soldiers. But not one of them was able successfully to command
so large an army, or to do the thing most needed,--capture Richmond.
The future hero had not yet won the attention of the country.

In the meantime affairs were very dark for the administration, and up
to the summer of 1863 had been growing darker and darker. Some splendid
military success had been accomplished in the West, but the West is at
best a vague term even to this day, and it has always seemed so remote
from the capital, especially as compared to the limited theater of war
in Virginia where the Confederate army was almost within sight of the
capital, that these western victories did not have as much influence as
they should have had.

And there were signal reverses in the West, too. Both Louisville and
Cincinnati were seriously threatened, and the battle of Chickamauga was
another field of slaughter, even though it was shortly redeemed by
Chattanooga. But the attention of the country was necessarily focussed
chiefly on the limited territory that lay between Washington and
Richmond. In that region nothing permanent or decisive had been
accomplished in the period of more than two years, and it is small
wonder that the President became haggard in appearance.

He did what he could. He had thus far held the divided North, and
prevented a European alliance with the Confederates. He now used, one
by one, the most extreme measures. He suspended the writ of _habeas
corpus_, declared or authorized martial law, authorized the
confiscation of the property of those who were providing aid and
comfort for the enemy, called for troops by conscription when
volunteers ceased, and enlisted negro troops. Any person who studies
the character of Abraham Lincoln will realize that these measures, or
most of them, came from him with great reluctance. He was not a man who
would readily or lightly take up such means. They meant that the
country was pressed, hard pressed. They were extreme measures, not
congenial to his accustomed lines of thought. They were as necessities.

But what Lincoln looked for, longed for, was the man who could use
skillfully and successfully, the great Army of the Potomac. He had not
yet been discovered.



The outlook from Washington during the first half of the year 1863 was
as discouraging as could well be borne. There had been no real advance
since the beginning of the war. Young men, loyal and enthusiastic, had
gone into the army by hundreds of thousands. Large numbers of these,
the flower of the northern youth, had been slain or wounded, and far
larger numbers had died of exposure in the swamps of Virginia. There
was still no progress. Washington had been defended, but there was
hardly a day when the Confederates were not within menacing distance of
the capital.

After the bloody disaster at Chancellorsville matters grew even worse.
Lee first defeated Hooker in battle and then he out-maneuvered him. He
cleverly eluded him, and before Hooker was aware of what was going on,
he was on his way, with eighty thousand men, towards Philadelphia and
had nearly a week's start of the Union army. The Confederates had
always thought that if they could carry the war into the northern
states they would fight to better advantage. Jeff Davis had threatened
the torch, but it is not likely that such subordinates as General Lee
shared his destructive and barbarous ambition. Still, Lee had a
magnificent army, and its presence in Pennsylvania was fitted to
inspire terror. It was also fitted to rouse the martial spirit of the
northern soldiers, as afterwards appeared.

As soon as the situation was known, Hooker started in hot pursuit.
After he had crossed the Potomac going north, he made certain requests
of the War Department which were refused, and he, angry at the refusal,
promptly sent in his resignation. Whether his requests were reasonable
is one question; whether it was patriotic in him to resign on the eve
of what was certain to be a great and decisive battle is another
question. But his resignation was accepted and Meade was appointed to
the command. He accepted the responsibility with a modest and soldierly
spirit and quit himself like a man. It is one of the rare cases in all
history in which an army has on the eve of battle made a change of
generals without disaster. That is surely highly to the credit of
General Meade. Lee's objective point was not known. He might capture
Harrisburg or Philadelphia, or both. He would probably desire to cut
off all communication with Washington. The only thing to do was to
overtake him and force a battle. He himself realized this and was fully
decided not to give battle but fight only on the defensive. Curiously
enough, Meade also decided not to attack, but to fight on the
defensive. Nevertheless, "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang
aft agley."

The result was Gettysburg, and the battle was not fought in accordance
with the plan of either commander. Uncontrollable events forced the
battle then and there. This battle-field was some distance to the
north, that is to say, in advance of Pipe Creek, the location selected
by Meade. But a conflict between a considerable force on each side
opened the famous battle on July 1st. A retreat, or withdrawal, to Pipe
Creek would have been disastrous. The first clash was between Heth's
division on the Confederate side, and Buford and Reynolds on the Union
side. Rarely have soldiers been more eager for the fray than were those
of the Union army at this time, especially the sons of Pennsylvania.
"Up and at 'em" was the universal feeling. It was hardly possible to
hold them back. The generals felt that it was not wise to hold them
back. Thus, as one division after another, on both sides, came up to
the help of their comrades, Gettysburg was accepted as the battle-
field. It was selected by neither commander, it was thrust upon them by
the fortunes of war, it was selected by the God of battles.

Almost the first victim on the Union side was that talented and brave
soldier, the general in command, Reynolds. His place was later in the
day,--that is, about four o'clock in the afternoon,--filled, and well
filled, by General Hancock.

The scope of this volume does not permit the description of this great
battle, and only some of the results may be given. The evening of July
1st closed in with the Union army holding out, but with the advantages,
such as they were, on the Confederate side. The second day the fight
was fiercely renewed and closed with no special advantage on either
side. On the third day it was still undecided until in the afternoon
when the climax came in Pickett's famous charge. This was the very
flower of the Confederate army, and the hazard of the charge was taken
by General Lee against the earnest advice of Longstreet. They were
repulsed and routed, and that decided the battle. Lee's army was turned
back, the attempted invasion was a failure, and it became manifest that
even Lee could not fight to advantage on northern soil.

Gettysburg was the greatest battle ever fought on the western
hemisphere, and it will easily rank as one of the great battles of
either hemisphere. The number of troops was about 80,000 on each side.
In the beginning the Confederates decidedly outnumbered the Federals,
because the latter were more scattered and it took time to bring them
up. In the latter part, the numbers were more nearly evenly divided,
though nearly one-fourth of Meade's men were not in the battle at any

The total loss of killed, wounded, and missing, was on the Confederate
side over 31,000; on the Union side, about 23,000. The Confederates
lost seventeen generals, and the Federals twenty. When we consider this
loss of generals, bearing in mind that on the Union side they were
mostly those on whom Meade would naturally lean, it is hardly to be
wondered at that he so far lost his nerve as to be unwilling to pursue
the retreating enemy or hazard another battle. He could not realize
that the enemy had suffered much more than he had, and that, despite
his losses, he was in a condition to destroy that army. Not all that
Lincoln could say availed to persuade him to renew the attack upon the
retreating foe. When Lee reached the Potomac he found the river so
swollen as to be impassable. He could only wait for the waters to
subside or for time to improvise a pontoon bridge.

When, after waiting for ten days, Meade was aroused to make the attack,
he was just one day too late. Lee had got his army safely into
Virginia, and the war was not over. Lincoln could only say, "Providence
has twice [the other reference is to Antietam] delivered the Army of
Northern Virginia into our hands, and with such opportunities lost we
ought scarcely to hope for a third chance."

Lincoln wrote a letter to Meade. He also wrote him a second letter--or
was it the first?--which he did not send. We quote from this because it
really expressed the President's mind, and because the fact that he did
not send it only shows how reluctant he was to wound another's feelings
even when deserved.

"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? It 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. I beg you will not consider this a prosecution or
persecution of yourself. As you had learned that I was dissatisfied, I
thought it best to kindly tell you why."

While not overlooking Meade's omission, as this letter shows, he
appreciated the full value of the victory that checked Lee's advance,
and thanked the general heartily for that.

On the same afternoon of July 3d, almost at the very minute that
Pickett was making his charge, there was in progress, a thousand miles
to the west, an event of almost equal importance. Just outside the
fortifications of Vicksburg, under an oak tree, General Grant had met
the Confederate General, Pemberton, to negotiate terms of surrender.
The siege of Vicksburg was a great triumph, and its capitulation was of
scarcely less importance than the victory at Gettysburg. Vicksburg
commanded the Mississippi River and was supposed to be impregnable.
Surely few cities were situated more favorably to resist either attack
or siege. But Admiral Porter got his gunboats below the city, running
the batteries in the night, and Grant's investment was complete. The
Confederate cause was hopeless, their men nearly starved.

Grant's _plan_ was to make a final attack (if necessary) on the 6th or
7th day of July; but some time previous to this he had predicted that
the garrison would surrender on the fourth. General Pemberton tried his
utmost to avoid this very thing. When it became apparent that he could
not hold out much longer, he opened negotiations on the morning of July
3d for the specific purpose of forestalling the possibility of
surrender on the next day, Independence Day. In his report to the
Confederate government he claims to have chosen the 4th of July for
surrender, because he thought that he could secure better terms on that
day. But his pompous word has little weight, and all the evidence
points the other way. When on the morning of the 3d of July he opened
negotiations, he could not possibly have foreseen that it would take
twenty-four hours to arrange the terms.

It was, then, on the 4th of July that Grant occupied Vicksburg. The
account by Nicolay and Hay ends with the following beautiful
reflection: "It is not the least of the glories gained by the Army of
the Tennessee in this wonderful campaign that not a single cheer went
up from the Union ranks, not a single word [was spoken] that could
offend their beaten foes."

The loss to the Union army in killed, wounded, and missing, was about
9,000. The Confederate loss was nearly 50,000. To be sure many of the
paroled were compelled to reenlist according to the policy of the
Confederate government. But even so their parole was a good thing for
the cause of the Union. They were so thoroughly disaffected that their
release did, for the time, more harm than good to the southern cause.
Then it left Grant's army free.

The sequel to this victory came ten months later in Sherman's march to
the sea: not less thrilling in its conception and dramatic in its
execution than any battle or siege. Much fighting, skilful generalship,
long patience were required before this crowning act could be done, but
it came in due time and was one of the finishing blows to the
Confederacy, and it came as a logical result of the colossal victory at

There were some eddies and counter currents to the main drift of
affairs. About the time that Lee and his beaten army were making good
their escape, terrific riots broke out in New York City in resisting
the draft. As is usual in mob rule the very worst elements of human or
devilish depravity came to the top and were most in evidence. For
several days there was indeed a reign of terror. The fury of the mob
was directed particularly against the negroes. They were murdered.
Their orphan asylum was burnt. But the government quickly suppressed
the riot with a firm hand. The feeling was general throughout the
country that we were now on the way to a successful issue of the war.
The end was almost in sight. Gettysburg and Vicksburg, July 3 and 4,
1863, had inspired new hopes never to be quenched.

On the 15th day of July the President issued a thanksgiving
proclamation, designating August 6th as the day. Later in the year he
issued another thanksgiving proclamation, designating the last Thursday
in November. Previous to that time, certain states, and not a few
individuals, were in the habit of observing a thanksgiving day in
November. Indeed the custom, in a desultory way, dates back to Plymouth
Colony. But these irregular and uncertain observances never took on the
semblance of a national holiday. _That_ dates from the proclamation
issued October 3d, 1863. From that day to this, every President has
every year followed that example.

Lincoln was invited to attend a public meeting appointed for August
26th at his own city of Springfield, the object of which was to concert
measures for the maintenance of the Union. The pressure of public
duties did not permit him to leave Washington, but he wrote a
characteristic letter, a part of which refers to some of the events
touched on in this chapter. A few sentences of this letter are here

"The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea. Thanks to the
great Northwest for it; nor yet wholly to them. Three hundred miles tip
they met New England, Empire, Keystone, and Jersey, hewing their way
right and left. The sunny South, too, in more colors than one, also
lent a helping hand. On the spot, their part of the history was jotted
down in black and white. The job was a great national one, and let none
be slighted who bore an honorable part in it. And while those who have
cleared the great river may well be proud, even that is not all. It is
hard to say that anything has been more bravely and well done than at
Antietam, Murfreesboro, Gettysburg, and on many fields of less note.
Nor must Uncle Sam's web-feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins
they have been present, not only on the deep sea, the broad bay, and
the rapid river, but also up the narrow, muddy bayou, and wherever the
ground was a little damp, they have been and made their tracks. Thanks
to all. For the great republic--for the principle it lives by and keeps
alive--for man's vast future--thanks to all.

"Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon
and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future
time. It will then have been proved that among freemen there can be no
successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet, and that they who take
such appeal are sure to lose their case and pay the cost. And there
will be some black men who can remember that with silent tongue and
clenched teeth and steady eye and well-poised bayonet they have helped
mankind on to this great consummation; while I fear there will be some
white ones unable to forget that with malignant heart and deceitful
speech they have striven to hinder it."

It is plain that after July 4, 1863, the final result was no longer
doubtful. So Lincoln felt it. There were indeed some who continued to
cry that the war was a failure, but in such cases the wish was only
father to the thought.



The great army of R. E. Lee operated, through the whole period of the
four years of the war, almost within sight of Washington City. It is
not in the least strange that eastern men, many of whom had hardly
crossed the Alleghanies, should think that the operations in Virginia
were about all the war there was, and that the fighting in the West was
of subordinate importance. Lincoln could not fall into this error. Not
only had he a singularly broad vision, but he was himself a western
man. He fully appreciated the magnitude of the operations in that vast
territory lying between the Alleghanies on the east and the western
boundary of Missouri on the west. He also clearly understood the
importance of keeping open the Mississippi River throughout its entire

At the very time the Army of the Potomac was apparently doing nothing,
--winning no victories, destroying no armies, making no permanent
advances,--there was a man in the West who was building up for himself
a remarkable reputation. He was all the while winning victories,
destroying armies, making advances. He was always active, he was always
successful. The instant one thing was accomplished he turned his
energies to a new task. This was Grant.

He was a graduate of West Point, had seen service in the Mexican War,
and ultimately rose to the grade of captain. At the outbreak of the war
he was in business with his father in Galena, Illinois. When the
President called for the 75,000 men, Grant proceeded at once to make
himself useful by drilling volunteer troops. He was by the governor of
Illinois commissioned as colonel, and was soon promoted. His first
service was in Missouri. When stationed at Cairo he seized Paducah on
his own responsibility. This stroke possibly saved Kentucky for the
Union, for the legislature, which had up to that time been wavering,
declared at once in favor of the Union.

He was then ordered to break up a Confederate force at Belmont, a few
miles below Cairo. He started at once on his expedition, and though the
enemy was largely reinforced before his arrival, he was entirely
successful and returned with victory, not excuses.

Then came Forts Henry and Donaldson. The latter attracted unusual
attention because it was the most important Union victory up to that
time, and because of his epigrammatic reply to the offer of surrender.
When asked what terms he would allow, his reply was, "Unconditional
surrender." As these initials happened to fit the initials of his name,
he was for a long time called "Unconditional Surrender Grant." So he
passed promptly from one task to another, from one victory to another.
And Lincoln kept watch of him. He began to think that Grant was the man
for the army.

It has been said that Lincoln, while he gave general directions to his
soldiers, and freely offered suggestions, left them to work out the
military details in their own way. This is so well illustrated in his
letter to Grant that, for this reason, as well as for the intrinsic
interest of the letter, it is here given in full:

"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 thought it was a mistake. I now
wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right and I was

There was surely no call for this confession, no reason for the letter,
except the bigness of the heart of the writer. Like the letter to
Hooker, it was just such a letter as a father might write a son. It was
the production of a high grade of manliness.

Prominence always brings envy, fault-finding, hostility. From this
Grant did not escape. The more brilliant and uniform his successes, the
more clamorous a certain class of people became. The more strictly he
attended to his soldierly duties, the more busily certain people tried
to interfere,--to tell him how to do, or how not to do. In their self-
appointed censorship they even besieged the President and made life a
burden to him. With wit and unfailing good nature, he turned their
criticisms. When they argued that Grant could not possibly be a good
soldier, he replied, "I like him; he fights."

When they charged him with drunkenness, Lincoln jocularly proposed that
they ascertain the brand of the whisky he drank and buy up a large
amount of the same sort to send to his other generals, so that they
might win victories like him!

Grant's important victories in the West came in rapid and brilliant
succession. Forts Henry and Donaldson were captured in February, 1862.
The battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, was fought in April of the
same year. Vicksburg surrendered July 4th, 1863. And the battle of
Chattanooga took place in November of that year.

Grant was always sparing of words and his reports were puzzling to the
administration. He always reported, and that promptly. But his reports
were of the briefest description and in such marked contrast to those
of all other officers known to the government, that they were a mystery
to those familiar with certain others. Lincoln said that Grant could do
anything except write a report. He concluded to send a trusty messenger
to see what manner of man this victorious general was. Charles A. Dana,
Assistant-Secretary of War, was chosen for this purpose. His
investigation was satisfactory, fully so. Lincoln's confidence in, and
hopes for, this rising warrior were fully justified.

It was after the capitulation of Vicksburg that Grant grasped the fact
that he was the man destined to end the war. After the battle of
Chattanooga public opinion generally pointed to him as the general who
was to lead our armies to ultimate victory. In February, 1864, congress
passed an act creating the office of Lieutenant General. The President
approved that act on Washington's birthday, and nominated Grant for
that office. The senate confirmed this nomination on March 2d, and
Grant was ordered to report at Washington.

With his usual promptness he started at once for Washington, arriving
there the 8th of March. The laconic conversation which took place
between the President and the general has been reported about as

"What do you want me to do?"

"To take Richmond. Can you do it?"

"Yes, if you furnish me troops enough."

That evening there was a levee at the White House which he attended.
The crowd were very eager to see him, and he was persuaded to mount a
sofa, which he did blushing, so that they might have a glimpse of him,
but he could not be prevailed on to make a speech. On parting that
evening with the President, he said, "This is the warmest campaign I
have witnessed during the war."

That evening Lincoln informed him that he would on the next day
formally present his commission with a brief speech--four sentences in
all. He suggested that Grant reply in a speech suitable to be given out
to the country in the hope of reviving confidence and courage. The
formality of the presentation occurred the next day, but the general
disappointed the President as to the speech. He accepted the commission
with remarks of soldier-like brevity.

It is fitting here to say of General Meade that as he had accepted his
promotion to the command of the Army of the Potomac with dignified
humility, so he accepted his being superseded with loyal obedience. In
both cases he was a model of a patriot and a soldier.

As soon as he received his commission Grant visited his future army--
the Army of the Potomac. Upon his return Mrs. Lincoln planned to give a
dinner in his honor. But this was not to his taste. He said, "Mrs.
Lincoln must excuse me. I must be in Tennessee at a given time."

"But," replied the President, "we can't excuse you. Mrs. Lincoln's
dinner without you would be Hamlet with Hamlet left out."

"I appreciate the honor Mrs. Lincoln would do me," he said, "but time
is very important now--and really--Mr. Lincoln--I have had enough of
this show business."

Mr. Lincoln was disappointed in losing the guest for dinner, but he was
delighted with the spirit of his new general.

Grant made his trip to the West. How he appreciated the value of time
is shown by the fact that he had his final conference with his
successor, General Sherman, who was also his warm friend, on the
railway train _en route_ to Cincinnati. He had asked Sherman to
accompany him so far for the purpose of saving time.

On March 17th General Grant assumed command of the armies of the United
States with headquarters in the field. He was evidently in earnest. As
Lincoln had cordially offered help and encouragement to all the other
generals, so he did to Grant. The difference between one general and
another was not in Lincoln's offer of help, or refusal to give it, but
there was a difference in the way in which his offers were received.
The following correspondence tells the story of the way he held himself
alert to render assistance:


WASHINGTON, April 30, 1864.


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 will be 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 you.

  Yours very truly,

   "Headquarters Armies of the United States,
   Culpepper Court-House, May 1, 1864."


"Your very kind letter of yesterday is just received. The confidence
you express for the future and satisfaction with the past in my
military administration is acknowledged with pride. It will be my
earnest endeavor that you and the country shall not be disappointed.
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.

  Very truly, your obedient servant,
   U. S. Grant, _Lieut-General_."

There is just here a subject on which there is a curious difference of
opinion between Grant and John Hay. Grant says that, on his last visit
to Washington before taking the field, the President had become
acquainted with the fact that a general movement had been ordered all
along the line, and _seemed_ (italics ours) to think it a new
feature in war. He explained this plan to the President who was greatly
interested and said, "Oh, yes! I see that. As we say out West, if a man
can't skin, he must hold a leg while somebody else does."

There is, at the same time, documentary evidence that Lincoln had been
continually urging this precise plan on all his generals. Mr. Hay
therefore distrusts the accuracy of General Grant's memory. To the
present writer, there is no mystery in the matter. The full truth is
large enough to include the statement of Grant as well as that of
Nicolay and Hay. Mr. Hay is certainly right in claiming that Lincoln
from the first desired such a concerted movement all along the line;
for, even though not all could fight at the same time, those not
fighting could help otherwise. This was the force of the western
proverb, "Those not skinning can hold a leg," which he quoted to all
his generals from Buell to Grant.

When therefore Grant explained precisely this plan to Lincoln, the
latter refrained from the natural utterance,--"That is exactly what I
have been trying to get our generals to do all these years." In
courtesy to Grant he did not claim to have originated the plan, hut
simply preserved a polite silence. He followed eagerly as the general
reiterated his own ideas, and the exclamation, "Oh, yes! I see that,"
would mean more to Lincoln than Grant could possibly have guessed. He
did see it, he had seen it a long time.

It will be remembered that Lincoln had, for the sake of comprehending
the significance of one word, mastered Euclid after he became a lawyer.
There is here another evidence of the same thoroughness and force of
will. During the months when the Union armies were accomplishing
nothing, he procured the necessary books and set himself, in the midst
of all his administrative cares, to the task of learning the science of
war. That he achieved more than ordinary success will now surprise no
one who is familiar with his character. His military sagacity is
attested by so high an authority as General Sherman. Other generals
have expressed their surprise and gratification at his knowledge and
penetration in military affairs. But never at any time did he lord it
over his generals. He did make suggestions. He did ask McClellan why
one plan was better than another. He did ask some awkward questions of
Meade. But it was his uniform policy to give his generals all possible
help, looking only for results, and leaving details unreservedly in
their hands. This is the testimony of McClellan and Grant, and the
testimony of the two generals, so widely different in character and
method, should be and is conclusive. Grant says that Lincoln expressly
assured him that he preferred not to know his purposes,--he desired
only to learn what means he needed to carry them out, and promised to
furnish these to the full extent of his power.

Side by side these two men labored, each in his own department, until
the war was ended and their work was done. Though so different, they
were actuated by the same spirit. Not even the southern generals
themselves had deeper sympathy with, or greater tenderness for, the
mass of the Confederate soldiers. It was the same magnanimity in
Lincoln and Grant that sent the conquered army, after their final
defeat, back to the industries of peace that they might be able to
provide against their sore needs.

When that madman assassinated the President, the conspiracy included
also the murder of the general. This failed only by reason of Grant's
unexpected absence from Washington City on the night of the crime.



The duties of the President of the United States include the writing of
state papers that are considerable both in number and in volume. Many
of the Presidents, from Washington down, have been men of great
ability, and almost all of them have had sufficient academic training
or intellectual environments in their early years. These state papers
have frequently been such as to compare favorably with those of the
ablest statesmen of Europe. With every new election of President the
people wait in expectancy for the inaugural address and the messages to
congress. These are naturally measured by the standard of what has
preceded--not of all that has preceded, for the inferior ones are
forgotten, but of the best. This is no light test for any man.

Lincoln's schooling was so slight as to be almost _nil_. He did not
grow up in a literary atmosphere. But in the matter of his official
utterances he must be compared with the ablest geniuses and most
cultured scholars that have preceded him, and not merely with his early
associates. He is to be measured with Washington, the Adamses,
Jefferson, and not with the denizens of Gentryville or New Salem.

Perhaps the best study of his keenness of literary criticism will be
found in his correction of Seward's letter of instruction to Charles
Francis Adams, minister to England, under date of May 21, 1861. Seward
was a brilliant scholar, a polished writer, a trained diplomatist. If
any person were able to compose a satisfactory letter for the critical
conditions of that period, he was the one American most likely to do
it. He drafted the letter and submitted it to Lincoln for suggestions
and corrections. The original manuscript with Lincoln's
interlineations, is still preserved, and facsimiles, or copies, are
given in various larger volumes of Lincoln's biography. This document
is very instructive. In every case Lincoln's suggestion is a marked
improvement on the original. It shows that he had the better command of
precise English. Lowell himself could not have improved his criticisms.
It shows, too, that he had a firmer grasp of the subject. Had Seward's
paper gone without these corrections, it is almost certain that
diplomatic relations with England would have been broken off. In
literary matters Lincoln was plainly the master and Seward was the

The power which Lincoln possessed of fitting language to thought is
marked. It made him the matchless story-teller, and gave sublimity to
his graver addresses. His thoroughness and accuracy were a source of
wonder and delight to scholars. He had a masterful grasp of great
subjects. He was able to look at events from all sides, so as to
appreciate how they would appear to different grades of intelligence,
different classes of people, different sections of the country. More
than once this many-sidedness of his mind saved the country from ruin.
Wit and humor are usually joined with their opposite, pathos, and it is
therefore not surprising that, being eminent in one, he should possess
all three characteristics. In his conversation his humor predominated,
in his public speeches pure reasoning often rose to pathos.

If the author were to select a few of his speeches or papers fitted to
give the best example of his literary qualities, and at the same time
present an evidence of the progress of his doctrine along political
lines, he would name the following: The House-divided-against-itself
speech, delivered at Springfield June 16, 1858. The underlying thought
of this was that the battle between freedom and slavery was sure to be
a fight to the finish.

Next is the Cooper Institute speech, Feb. 12, 1860. The argument in
this is that, in the thought and intent of the founders of our
government, the Union was permanent and paramount, while slavery was
temporary and secondary.

Next was his inaugural, March 4, 1861. This warned the country against
sectional war. It declared temperately but firmly, that he would
perform the duties which his oath of office required of him, but he
would _not_ begin a war: if war came the aggressors must be those
of the other side.

The next was the Emancipation Proclamation, September 22, 1862, and
January 1, 1863. This was not a general and complete emancipation of
all slaves, it was primarily a military device, a war measure, freeing
the slaves of those who were in actual and armed rebellion at the time.
It was intended to weaken the belligerent powers of the rebels, and a
notice of the plan was furnished more than three months in advance,
giving ample time to all who wished to do so, to submit to the laws of
their country and save that portion of their property that was invested
in slaves.

Then came the second inaugural, March 4, 1865. There was in this little
to discuss, for he had no new policy to proclaim, he was simply to
continue the policy of the past four years, of which the country had
shown its approval by reelecting him. The end of the war was almost in
sight, it would soon he finished. But in this address there breathes an
intangible spirit which gives it marvelous grandeur. Isaiah was a
prophet who was also a statesman. Lincoln--we say it with reverence--
was a statesman who was also a prophet. He had foresight. He had
_in_sight. He saw the hand of God shaping events, he saw the spirit of
God in events. Such is his spiritual elevation of thought, such his
tenderness of yearning, that there is no one but Isaiah to whom we may
fittingly compare him, in the manly piety of his closing paragraph:

"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 to finish the work we are in; to bind up
the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have home the battle,
and for his widow, and his orphan; to do all which may achieve and
cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

The study of these five speeches, or papers, will give the salient
points of his political philosophy, and incidentally of his
intellectual development. These are not enough to show the man Lincoln,
but they do give a true idea of the great statesman. They show a
symmetrical and wonderful growth. Great as was the House-divided-
against-itself speech, there is yet a wide difference between that and
the second inaugural: and the seven years intervening accomplished this
growth of mind and of spirit only because they were years of great

Outside of this list is the address at the dedication of Gettysburg
cemetery, November 19, 1863. This was not intended for an oration.
Edward Everett was the orator of the occasion. Lincoln's part was to
pronounce the formal words of dedication. It was a busy time--all times
were busy with him, but this was unusually busy--and he wrote it on a
sheet of foolscap paper in such odd moments as he could command. In
form it is prose, but in effect it is a poem. Many of its sentences are
rhythmical. The occasion lifted him into a higher realm of thought. The
hearers were impressed by his unusual gravity and solemnity of manner
quite as much, perhaps, as by the words themselves. They were awed,
many were moved to tears. The speech is given in full:


"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

The effect of this speech was not immediate. Colonel Lamon was on the
platform when it was delivered and he says very decidedly that Everett,
Seward, himself, and Lincoln were all of opinion that the speech was a
failure. He adds: "I state it as a fact, and without fear of
contradiction, that this famous Gettysburg speech was not regarded by
the audience to whom it was addressed, or by the press or people of the
United States, as a production of extraordinary merit, nor was it
commented on as such until after the death of the author."

A search through the files of the leading New York dailies for several
days immediately following the date of the speech, seems to confirm
Lamon's remark--all except the last clause above quoted. These papers
give editorial praise to the oration of Everett, they comment favorably
on a speech by Beecher (who had just returned from England), but they
make no mention of Lincoln's speech. It is true that a day or two later
Everett wrote him a letter of congratulation upon his success. But this
may have been merely generous courtesy,--as much as to say, "Don't feel
badly over it, it was a much better speech than you think!" Or, on the
other hand, it may have been the result of his sober second thought,
the speech had time to soak in.

But the silence of the great daily papers confirms Lamon up to a
certain point. At the very first the speech was not appreciated. But
after a few days the public awoke to the fact that Lincoln's "few
remarks" were immeasurably superior to Everett's brilliant and learned
oration. The author distinctly remembers that it was compared to the
oration of Pericles in memory of the Athenian dead; that it was
currently said that there had been no memorial oration from that date
to Lincoln's speech of equal power. This comparison with Pericles is
certainly high praise, but is it not true? The two orations are very
different: Lincoln's was less than three hundred words long, that of
Pericles near three thousand. Pericles gloried in war, Lincoln mourned
over the necessity of war and yearned after peace. But both orators
alike appreciated the glory of sacrifice for one's country. And it is
safe to predict that this Gettysburg address, brief, hastily prepared,
underestimated by its author, will last as long as the republic shall
last, as long as English speech shall endure.



It was Lincoln's life-long habit to keep himself close to the plain
people. He loved them. He declared that the Lord must love them or he
would not have made so many of them. Out of them he came, to them he
belonged. In youth he was the perennial peacemaker and umpire of
disputes in his rural neighborhood. When he was President the same
people instinctively turned to him for help. The servants called him
Old Abe,--from them a term of affection, not of indignity. The soldiers
called him Father Abraham. He was glad to receive renowned politicians
and prominent business men at the White House; he was more glad to see
the plain people. When a farmer neighbor addressed him as "Mister
President," he said, "Call me Lincoln." The friendship of these people
rested him.

Then, too, he had a profound realization of their importance to the
national prosperity. It was their instincts that constituted the
national conscience. It was their votes that had elected him. It was
their muskets that had defended the capital. It was on their loyalty
that he counted for the ultimate triumph of the Union cause. As his
administrative policy progressed it was his concern not to outstrip
them so far as to lose their support. In other words, he was to lead
them, not run away from them. His confidence in them was on the whole
well founded, though there were times when the ground seemed to be
slipping out from under him.

The middle portion of 1864 was one such period of discouragement. The
material for volunteer soldiers was about exhausted, and it was
becoming more and more necessary to depend upon the draft, and that
measure caused much friction. The war had been long, costly, sorrowful.
Grant was before Petersburg, Farragut at Mobile, and Sherman at
Atlanta. The two first had no promise of immediate success, and as to
the third it was a question whether he was not caught in his own trap.
This prolongation of the war had a bad effect on the northern public.

Lincoln, shrewdly and fairly, analyzed the factions of loyal people as

"We are in civil war. In such cases there always is a main question;
but in this case that question is a perplexing compound--Union and
slavery. It thus becomes a question not of two sides merely, but of at
least four sides, even among those who are for the Union, saying
nothing of those who are against it. Thus--

Those who are for the Union with, but not without, slavery;

Those for it without, but not with;

Those for it with or without, but prefer it with; and

Those for it with or without, but prefer it without.

Among these again is a subdivision of those who are for gradual, but
not for immediate, and those who are for immediate, but not for
gradual, extinction of slavery."

One man who was in the political schemes of that day says that in
Washington there were only three prominent politicians who were not
seriously discontented with and opposed to Lincoln. The three named
were Conkling, Sumner, and Wilson. Though there was undoubtedly a
larger number who remained loyal to their chief, yet the discontent was
general. The President himself felt this. Nicolay and Hay have
published a note which impressively tells the sorrowful story:

   "Executive Mansion,
  Washington, August 28, 1864.

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

  A. Lincoln."

Early in the year this discontent had broken out in a disagreeable and
dangerous form. The malcontents were casting about to find a candidate
who would defeat Lincoln. They first tried General Rosecrans, and from
him they got an answer of no uncertain sound. "My place," he declared,
"is here. The country gave me my education, and so has a right to my
military services."

Their next attempt was Grant, with whom they fared no better. Then they
tried Vice-President Hamlin who was certainly dissatisfied with the
slowness with which Lincoln moved in the direction of abolition. But
Hamlin would not be a candidate against his chief.

Then the Secretary of the Treasury, Chase, entered the race as a rival
of Lincoln. When this became known, the President was urged by his
friends to dismiss from the cabinet this secretary who was so far out
of sympathy with the administration he was serving. He refused to do
this so long as Chase did his official duties well, and when Chase
offered to resign he told him there was no need of it. But the citizens
of Ohio, of which state Chase had in 1860 been the "favorite son," did
not take the same view of the matter. Both legislature and mass
meetings demanded his resignation so emphatically that he could not
refuse. He did resign and was for a short time in private life. In
December, 1864, Lincoln, in the full knowledge of the fact that during
the summer Chase had done his utmost to injure him, nominated him as
chief justice, and from him received his oath of office at his second

The search for a rival for Lincoln was more successful when Fremont was
solicited. He was nominated by a convention of extreme abolitionists
that met in the city of Cleveland. But it soon became apparent that his
following was insignificant, and he withdrew his name.

The regular republican convention was held in Baltimore, June 8, 1864.
Lincoln's name was presented, as in 1860, by the state of Illinois. On
the first ballot he received every vote except those from the state of
Missouri. When this was done, the Missouri delegates changed their
votes and he was nominated unanimously.

In reply to congratulations, he said, "I do not allow myself to suppose
that either the convention or the League have concluded to decide that
I am either the greatest or best man in America, but rather that they
have concluded that it is not best to swap horses while crossing the
river, and have further concluded that I am not so poor a horse that
they might not make a botch of it trying to swap."

That homely figure of "swapping horses while crossing the river" caught
the attention of the country. It is doubtful if ever a campaign speech,
or any series of campaign speeches, was so effective in winning and
holding votes as that one phrase.

But, as has already been said, the prospects during the summer,--for
there was a period of five months from the nomination to the election,
--were anything but cheering. At this crisis there developed a means of
vigorous support which had not previously been estimated at its full
value. In every loyal state there was a "war governor." Upon these men
the burdens of the war had rested so heavily that they understood, as
they would not otherwise have understood, the superlative weight of
cares that pressed on the President, and they saw more clearly than
they otherwise could have seen, the danger in swapping horses while
crossing the river. These war governors rallied with unanimity and with
great earnestness to the support of the President. Other willing
helpers were used. The plain people, as well as the leading patriots,
rallied to the support of the President.

The democrats nominated McClellan on the general theory that the war
was a failure. As election day approached, the increased vigor with
which the war was prosecuted made it look less like a failure, even
though success was not in sight. The result of the election was what in
later days would be called a landslide. There were two hundred and
thirty-three electors. Of this number two hundred and twelve were for
Lincoln. The loyal North was back of him. He might now confidently gird
himself for finishing the work.

Such was his kindliness of spirit that he was not unduly elated by
success, and never, either in trial or achievement, did he become
vindictive or revengeful. After the election he was serenaded, and in
acknowledgment he made a little speech. Among other things he said,
"Now that the election is over, may not all, having a common interest,
reunite in a common effort to save our common country? For my own part,
I have striven, and will strive, to place no obstacle in the way. So
long as I have been here _I have not willingly planted a thorn in any
man's bosom_."



As the year 1864 wore towards its close, military events manifestly
approached a climax. In 1861 the two armies were comparatively green.
For obvious reasons the advantage was on the side of the South. The
South had so long been in substantial control at Washington that they
had the majority of the generals, they had nearly all the arms and
ammunition, and, since they had planned the coming conflict, their
militia were in the main in better condition. But matters were
different after three years. The armies on both sides were now composed
of veterans, the generals had been tried and their value was known. Not
least of all, Washington, while by no means free from spies, was not so
completely overrun with them as at the first. At the beginning the
departments were simply full of spies, and every movement of the
government was promptly reported to the authorities at Richmond. Three
and a half years had sufficed to weed out most of these.

In that period a splendid navy had been constructed. The Mississippi
River was open from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Every southern
port was more or less successfully blockaded, and the power of the
government in this was every month growing stronger.

Strange as it may seem, the available population of the North had
increased. The figures which Lincoln gave prove this. The loyal states
of the North gave in 1860 a sum total of 3,870,222 votes. The same
states in 1864 gave a total of 3,982,011. That gave an excess of voters
to the number of 111,789. To this should be added the number of all the
soldiers in the field from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey,
Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, and California, who by the laws of those
states could not vote away from their homes, and which number could not
have been less than 90,000. Then there were two new states, Kansas and
Nevada, that had cast 33,762 votes. This leaves an increase for the
North of 234,551 votes. It is plain that the North was not becoming
exhausted of men.

Nor had the manufactures of the North decreased. The manufacture of
arms and all the munitions of war was continually improving, and other
industrial interests were flourishing. There was indeed much poverty
and great suffering. The financial problem was one of the most serious
of all, but in all these the South was suffering more than the North.
On the southern side matters were growing desperate. The factor of time
now counted against them, for, except in military discipline, they were
not improving with the passing years. There was little hope of foreign
intervention, there was not much hope of a counter uprising in the
North. It is now generally accepted as a certainty that, if the
Confederate government had published the truth concerning the progress
of the war, especially of such battles as Chattanooga, the southern
people would have recognized the hopelessness of their cause and the
wickedness of additional slaughter, and the war would have terminated

In the eighth volume of the History by Nicolay and Hay there is a
succession of chapters of which the headings alone tell the glad story
of progress. These headings are: "Arkansas Free," "Louisiana Free,"
"Tennessee Free," "Maryland Free," and "Missouri Free."

In August Admiral Farragut had captured Mobile. General Grant with his
veterans was face to face with General Lee and his veterans in
Virginia. General Sherman with his splendid army had in the early fall
struck through the territory of the Southern Confederacy and on
Christmas day had captured Savannah. The following letter from the
President again shows his friendliness towards his generals:

  WASHINGTON, December 26, 1864.


Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift, the capture of Savannah.

When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic, 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 further 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

Please make my grateful acknowledgment to your whole army--officers and

  Yours very truly,

The principal thing now to be done was the destruction of the
Confederate army or armies in Virginia. That and that only could end
the war. The sooner it should be done the better. Grant's spirit cannot
in a hundred pages be better expressed than in his own epigram,--"I
propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." It did
take all summer and all winter too, for the Confederates as well as the
Federals had grown to be good fighters, and they were no cowards. They,
too, were now acting on the defensive and were able to take advantage
of swamp, hill, and river. This was an important factor. Grant had
indeed captured two armies and destroyed one, but this was different.

It needed not an experienced eye or a military training to see that
this could only be done at a costly sacrifice of life. But let it be
remembered that the three years of no progress had also been at a
costly sacrifice of life. The deadly malaria of Virginia swamps was
quite as dangerous as a bullet or bayonet. Thousands upon thousands of
soldiers were taken to hospital cursing in their wrath: "If I could
only have been shot on the field of battle, there would have been some
glory in it. But to die of drinking the swamp water--this is awful!"
The sacrifice of life under Grant was appalling, but it was not greater
than the other sort of sacrifice had been. What is more, it
accomplished its purpose. Inch by inch he fought his way through many
bloody months to the evacuation of Richmond and the surrender of Lee's
army at Appomattox, April 9, 1865. Then the war was over.

[Illustration: Grant's Campaign around Richmond.]

The sympathies of the President were not limited to his own friends or
his own army. The author is permitted to narrate the following
incident--doubtless there were many others like it--which is given by
an eye-witness, the Reverend Lysander Dickerman, D.D., of New York

It was at Hatcher's Run on the last Sunday before the close of the war.
A detachment of Confederate prisoners, possibly two thousand in all,
had just been brought in. They were in rags, starved, sick, and
altogether as wretched a sight as one would be willing to see in a
lifetime. A train of cars was standing on the siding. The President
came out of a car and stood on the platform. As he gazed at the
pitiable sufferers, he said not a word, but his breast heaved with
emotion, his frame quivered. The tears streamed down his cheeks and he
raised his arm ("I don't suppose," commented the Doctor, "he had a
handkerchief") and with his sleeve wiped away the tears. Then he
silently turned, reentered the car which but for him was empty, sat
down on the further side, buried his face in his hands, and wept. That
is the picture of the man Lincoln. Little did the Southerners suspect,
as they in turn cursed and maligned that great and tender man, what a
noble friend they really had in him.

As the end came in sight an awkward question arose, What shall we do
with Jeff Davis--if we catch him? This reminded the President of a
little story. "I told Grant," he said, "the story of an Irishman who
had taken Father Matthew's pledge. Soon thereafter, becoming very
thirsty, he slipped into a saloon and applied for a lemonade, and
whilst it was being mixed he whispered to the bartender, 'Av ye could
drap a bit o' brandy in it, all unbeknown to myself, I'd make no fuss
about it.' My notion was that if Grant could let Jeff Davis escape all
unbeknown to himself, he was to let him go. I didn't want him."
Subsequent events proved the sterling wisdom of this suggestion, for
the country had no use for Jeff Davis when he was caught.

Late in March, 1865, the President decided to take a short vacation,
said to be the first he had had since entering the White House in 1861.
With a few friends he went to City Point on the James River, where
Grant had his headquarters. General Sherman came up for a conference.
The two generals were confident that the end of the war was near, but
they were also certain that there must be at least one more great
battle. "Avoid this if possible," said the President. "No more
bloodshed, no more bloodshed."

On the second day of April both Richmond and Petersburg were evacuated.
The President was determined to see Richmond and started under the care
of Admiral Porter. The river was tortuous and all knew that the channel
was full of obstructions so that they had the sensation of being in
suspense as to the danger of torpedoes and other devices. Admiral
Farragut who was in Richmond came down the river on the same day, April
4th, to meet the presidential party. An accident happened to his boat
and it swung across the channel and there stuck fast, completely
obstructing the channel, and rendering progress in either direction
impossible. The members of the presidential party were impatient and
decided to proceed as best they could. They were transferred to the
Admiral's barge and towed up the river to their destination.

The grandeur of that triumphal entry into Richmond was entirely moral,
not in the least spectacular. There were no triumphal arches, no
martial music, no applauding multitudes, no vast cohorts with flying
banners and glittering arms. Only a few American citizens, in plain
clothes, on foot, escorted by ten marines. The central figure was that
of a man remarkably tall, homely, ill-dressed, but with a countenance
radiating joy and good-will. It was only thirty-six hours since
Jefferson Davis had fled, having set fire to the city, and the fire was
still burning. There was no magnificent civic welcome to the modest
party, but there was a spectacle more significant. It was the large
number of negroes, crowding, kneeling, praying, shouting "Bress de
Lawd!" Their emancipator, their Moses, their Messiah, had come in
person. To them it was the beginning of the millennium. A few poor
whites added their welcome, such as it was, and that was all. But all
knew that "Babylon had fallen," and they realized the import of that

Johnston did not surrender to Sherman until April 26th, but Lee had
surrendered on the 9th, and it was conceded that it was a matter of but
a few days when the rest also would surrender. On Good Friday, April
14th,--a day glorious in its beginning, tragic at its close,--the
newspapers throughout the North published an order of the Secretary of
War stopping the draft and the purchase of arms and munitions of war.
The government had decreed that at twelve o'clock noon of that day the
stars and stripes should be raised above Fort Sumter. The chaplain was
the Reverend Matthias Harris who had officiated at the raising of the
flag over that fort in 1860. The reading of the psalter was conducted
by the Reverend Dr. Storrs of Brooklyn. The orator of the occasion was
the eloquent Henry Ward Beecher. And the flag was raised by Major (now
General) Anderson, whose staunch loyalty and heroic defense has linked
his name inseparably with Sumter.

The war was over and Lincoln at once turned his attention to the duties
of reconstruction.



Ward H. Lamon asserts that there was no day, from the morning Lincoln
left Springfield to the night of his assassination, when his life was
not in serious peril. If we make generous allowance for the fears which
had their root in Lamon's devoted love for his chief, and for that
natural desire to magnify his office--for his special charge was to
guard the President from bodily harm--which would incline him to
estimate trifles seriously, we are still compelled to believe that the
life was in frequent, if not continual, danger. There are, and always
have been, men whose ambition is in the direction of a startling crime.
There were not less than three known attempts on the life of Lincoln
between Springfield and Washington. There may have been others that are
not known. If any one was in a position to know of real and probable
plots against the President's life, it was Lamon. It was he, too, who
showed the greatest concern upon the subject, though he was personally
a man of unlimited courage.

An event occurred early in 1862, which we here transcribe, not merely
because of its intrinsic interest, but especially because it hints of
dangers not known to the public. Lincoln was at this time residing at
the Soldier's Home and was accustomed to riding alone to and from this
place. His friends could not prevail on him to accept an escort, though
they were in daily fear of kidnapping or murder. Lamon narrates the
occurrence substantially (in the President's words) as follows: One day
he rode up to the White House steps, where the Colonel met him, and
with his face full of fun, he said, "I have something to tell you." The
two entered the office, where the President locked the door and

"You know I have always told you I thought you an _idiot_ that ought to
be put in a strait jacket for your apprehensions of my personal danger
from assassination. You also know that the way we skulked into this
city in the first place has been a source of shame and regret to me,
for it did look so cowardly!"

"Yes, go on."

"Well, I don't now propose to make you my father-confessor and
acknowledge a change of heart, yet I am free to admit that just now I
don't know what to think: I am staggered. Understand me, I do not want
to oppose my pride of opinion against light and reason, but I am in
such a state of 'betweenity' in my conclusions, that I can't say that
the judgment of _this court_ is prepared to proclaim a decision upon
the facts presented."

After a pause he continued:

"Last night about eleven o'clock, I went to the Soldiers' Home alone,
riding _Old Abe_, as you call him; and when I arrived at the foot of
the hill on the road leading to the entrance to the Home grounds, I was
jogging along at a slow gait, immersed in deep thought, when suddenly I
was aroused--I may say the arousement lifted me out of my saddle as
well as out of my wits--by the report of a rifle, and seemingly the
gunner was not fifty yards from where my contemplations ended and my
accelerated transit began. My erratic namesake, with little warning,
gave proof of decided dissatisfaction at the racket, and with one
reckless bound he unceremoniously separated me from my eight-dollar
plug hat, with which I parted company without any assent, express or
implied, upon my part. At a break-neck speed we soon arrived in a haven
of safety. Meanwhile I was left in doubt whether death was more
desirable from being thrown from a runaway Federal horse, or as the
tragic result of a rifle-ball fired by a disloyal bushwhacker in the
middle of the night."

"I tell you there is no time on record equal to that made by the two
Old Abes on that occasion. The historic ride of John Gilpin, and Henry
Wilson's memorable display of bareback equestrianship on the stray army
mule from the scenes of the battle of Bull Run, a year ago, are nothing
in comparison to mine, either in point of time made or in ludicrous

"No good can result at this time from giving [this occurrence]
publicity. It does seem to me that I am in more danger from the
augmentation of an imaginary peril than from a judicious silence, be
the danger ever so great; and, moreover, I do not want it understood
that I share your apprehensions. I never have."

When one takes into account the number of Lincoln's bitter enemies, and
the desperate character of some of them, the wonder is that he was not
shot sooner. There were multitudes of ruffians in Washington City and
elsewhere, who had murder in their hearts and plenty of deadly weapons
within reach. Yet Lincoln lived on for four years, and was reluctant to
accept even a nominal body guard. The striking parallel between him and
William the Silent will at once occur to the reader. He, like Lincoln,
would take no precaution. He exposed himself freely, and there were
plots almost innumerable against his life before he was slain. Such
persons seem to have invisible defenders.

Lincoln was not a fatalist, but he did believe that he would live to
complete his specific work and that he would not live beyond that.
Perhaps he was wise in this. Had he surrounded himself with pomp and
defense after the manner of Fremont he could not have done his work at
all, for his special calling required that he should keep near to the
people, and not isolate himself. Moreover, it is a question whether an
elaborate show of defense would not have invited a correspondingly
elaborate ingenuity in attack. His very trustfulness must have disarmed
some. The wonder is not that he was slain at last, but that under the
circumstances he was not slain earlier.

Much has been written, and perhaps justly, of Lincoln's presentiments.
It is not exceptional, it is common in all rural communities to
multiply and magnify signs. The commonest occurrences are invested with
an occult meaning. Seeing the new moon over the right shoulder or over
the left shoulder, the howling of a dog at night, the chance assemblage
of thirteen persons, the spilling of salt,--these and a thousand other
things are taken to be signs of something. The habit of attending to
these things probably originates in mere amusements. It takes the
place, or furnishes the material, of small talk. But years of attention
to these things, especially in the susceptible period of childhood and
youth, are almost certain to have a lasting effect. A person gets into
the habit of noting them, of looking for them, and the influence
becomes ingrained in his very nature so that it is next to impossible
to shake it off. This condition is a feature of all rural communities,
not only in the West, but in New England: in fact, in Europe, Asia,
Africa, and Australia.

Lincoln shared the impressibility of the community in which he grew up;
no more, no less. Like all the rest, indeed, like all of mankind, he
counted the hits, not the misses. Being unusually outspoken, he often
told of impressions which another would not have mentioned. The very
telling of them magnified their importance. He had been having
premonitions all his life, and it would be strange if he did not have
some just before his death. He did, and these are the ones that are

In spite of all, he was in excellent spirits on Good Friday, April 14,
1865. The burdens and sorrows of bloodshed had made an old man of him.
But the war was at an end, the stars and stripes were floating over
Sumter, the Union was saved, and slavery was doomed. There came back
into his eyes the light that had long been absent. Those who were about
him said the elasticity of his movements and joyousness of his manner
were marked. "His mood all day was singularly happy and tender."

The events of the day were simple. It was the day of the regular
meeting of the cabinet. Grant, who had arrived in Washington that
morning, attended this meeting. It was the President's idea that the
leaders of the Confederacy should be allowed to escape,--much as he had
already jocularly advised Grant to let Jeff Davis escape "all unbeknown
to himself." He spoke plainly on the subject. "No one need expect me to
take any part in hanging or killing these men, even the worst of them.
Enough lives have been sacrificed." After the discussion of various
matters, when the cabinet adjourned until the following Tuesday, the
last words he ever uttered to them were that "they must now begin to
act in the interests of peace."

In the afternoon he went for a drive with Mrs. Lincoln. The
conversation embraced plans of living--in Chicago? or California?--
after the expiration of his term of office. This fact shows that his
presentments did not make so real an impression on him as many people
have believed.

Three days before this his devoted servant Colonel Lamon--we might
almost call him his faithful watch-dog, so loving, loyal, and watchful
was he--had gone on an errand for him to Richmond. Lamon, who was loath
to start, tried to secure from him a promise in advance of divulging
what it was to be. Lincoln, after much urging, said he thought he would
venture to make the promise. It was that he would promise not to go out
after night in Lamon's absence, and _particularly to the theater_
(italics Lamon's). The President first joked about it, but being
persistently entreated said at last: "Well, I promise to do the best I
can towards it."

But for the evening of the day under consideration, Mrs. Lincoln had
got up a theater party--her husband was always fond of the diversion
of the theater. The party was to include General and Mrs. Grant. But
the general's plans required him to go that evening to Philadelphia,
and so Major Rathbone and Miss Harris were substituted. This party
occupied the upper proscenium box on the right of the stage.

About ten o'clock, J. Wilkes Booth, a young actor twenty-six years of
age, and very handsome, glided along the corridor towards that box.
Being himself an actor and well known by the employees of the theater,
he was suffered to proceed without hindrance. Passing through the
corridor door he fastened it shut by means of a bar that fitted into a
niche previously prepared, and making an effectual barricade. A hole
had been bored through the door leading into the box so that he could
survey the inmates without attracting their attention. With revolver in
one hand and dagger in the other he noiselessly entered the box and
stood directly behind the President who was enjoying the humor of the

"The awful tragedy in the box makes everything else seem pale and
unreal. Here were five human beings in a narrow space--the greatest man
of his time, in the glory of the most stupendous success in our
history, the idolized chief of a nation already mighty, with
illimitable vistas of grandeur to come; his beloved wife, proud and
happy; a pair of betrothed lovers, with all the promise of felicity
that youth, social position, and wealth could give them; and this young
actor, handsome as Endymion upon Latmos, the pet of his little world.
The glitter of fame, happiness, and ease was upon the entire group, but
in an instant everything was to be changed with the blinding swiftness
of enchantment. Quick death was to come on the central figure of that
company--the central figure, we believe, of the great and good men of
the century. Over all the rest the blackest fates hovered menacingly--
fates from which a mother might pray that kindly death would save her
children in their infancy. One was to wander with the stain of murder
on his soul, with the curses of a world upon his name, with a price set
upon his head, in frightful physical pain, till he died a dog's death
in a burning barn; the stricken wife was to pass the rest of her days
in melancholy and madness; of those two young lovers, one was to slay
the other, and then end his life a raving maniac" (Nicolay and Hay, X.

The revolver was thrust near to the back of the head of the
unsuspecting victim--that kind man who had "never willingly planted a
thorn in any man's bosom," who could not bear to witness suffering even
in an animal. The report of the pistol was somewhat muffled and was
unnoticed by the majority of the audience. The ball penetrated the
President's brain, and without word or sound his head dropped upon his
breast. Major Rathbone took in the situation and sprang at the murderer
who slashed him savagely with the dagger, tore himself free, and leaped
over the balustrade upon the stage. It was not a high leap for an
athletic young man, but his spur caught in a flag with which the box
was draped, so that he did not strike quite squarely on his feet. The
result was that he broke his leg or ankle. But gathering himself up, he
flourished his dagger, declaiming the motto of Virginia, _Sic semper
Tyrannis_ (Thus ever to tyrants), and before the audience could realize
what was done, he disappeared. He ran out of the rear of the theater
where a fleet horse was in waiting. He mounted and rode for his life.
For eleven days he was in hiding, with the curse of Cain upon him,
suffering all the while excruciating agonies from his broken leg, which
could be but imperfectly cared for. He was finally corralled in a barn,
the barn was set on fire, and while thus at bay he was shot down.

Aid came at once to the President, but the surgeons saw at a glance
that the wound was mortal. They carried him out into the open air. When
they reached the street the question arose, Where shall we take him? On
the opposite side of the street was an unpretentious hotel. A man,
standing on the front steps, saw the commotion and asked what it meant.
On being told, he said, "Take him to my room." It was thus that the
greatest man of the age died in a small room of a common hotel. But
this was not unfitting; he was of the plain people, he always loved
them, and among them he closed his earthly record. He lingered
unconscious through the night, and at twenty minutes after seven
o'clock, on the morning of April 15th, he died.

The band of assassins of which Booth was the head, planned to murder
also other officials. Grant escaped, having suddenly left the city. The
only other person who was actually attacked was Seward. Though the
assassin was a giant in stature and in strength, though he fought like
a madman, and though Seward was at the time in bed with his right arm
and jaw fractured, he having been thrown from a horse, yet strangely
enough he was not killed. The assassin inflicted many and terrible
wounds, especially upon Frederick Seward, his son, who did not regain
consciousness for weeks; but no one in that house was killed.

Surely never did the telegraph hear heavier news than when it flashed
the message, "Lincoln has been assassinated." More than one ex-
Confederate stoutly declared that "when Lincoln was murdered the South
lost its best friend." And thousands of others replied, that was the
truth! At the dedication of his monument in 1874 General Grant gave
utterance again to this thought: "In his death the nation lost its
greatest hero; in his death the South lost its most just friend."



The outburst of sorrow and indignation over the foul murder of the
President was so great as to lead people to assume that Lincoln was at
all times and universally a favorite. Those who know better have
sometimes thought it discreet to preserve silence. But the greatness of
his work cannot be appreciated at its full value unless one bears in
mind that he had not the full measure of sympathy and a reasonable help
from those on whom he had a right to depend. During the four years that
he was in Washington he was indeed surrounded by a band of devoted
followers. But these people were few in numbers. Those who sympathized
with Fremont, or McClellan, or Greeley, plus those who were against
Lincoln on general principles, constituted a large majority of the
people who ought to have sustained him. All of these factions, or
coteries, however much they differed among themselves, agreed in
hampering Lincoln. For one person Lincoln was too radical, for another
too conservative, but both joined hands to annoy him.

Much of this annoyance was thoughtless. The critics were conscientious,
they sincerely believed that their plans were the best. They failed to
grasp the fact that the end desired might possibly be better reached by
other methods than their own. But on the other hand much of this
annoyance was malicious.

When the shock of the murder came, there was a great revulsion of
feeling. The thoughtless were made thoughtful, the malicious were
brought to their senses. Neither class had realized into what
diabolical hands they were playing by their opposition to the
administration. It was the greatness of the sorrow of the people--the
plain people whom he had always loved and who always loved him--that
sobered the contentions. Even this was not fully accomplished at once.
There is documentary evidence to show that the extreme radicals,
represented by such men as George W. Julian, of Indiana, considered
that the death of Lincoln removed an obstruction to the proper
governing of the country. Julian's words (in part) are as follows:

"I spent most of the afternoon [April 15, 1864, the day of Lincoln's
death] in a political caucus held for the purpose of considering the
necessity for a new Cabinet and a line of policy less conciliating than
that of Mr. Lincoln; and while everybody was shocked at his murder, the
feeling was nearly universal that the accession of Johnson to the
presidency would prove a godsend to the country.... On the following
day, in pursuance of a previous engagement, the Committee on the
Conduct of the War met the President at his quarters at the Treasury
Department. He received us with decided cordiality, and Mr. Wade said
to him: 'Johnson, we have faith in you. There will be no trouble now in
running the government.'... While we were rejoiced that the leading
conservatives of the country were not in Washington, we felt that the
presence and influence of the committee, of which Johnson had been a
member, would aid the Administration in getting on the right track....
The general feeling was ... that he would act on the advice of General
Butler by inaugurating a policy of his own, instead of administering on
the political estate of his predecessor." (Julian, "Political
Recollections," p. 255, ff.).

The names of the patriots who attended this caucus on the day of
Lincoln's death, are not given. It is not necessary to know them. It is
not probable that there were many exhibitions of this spirit after the
death of the President. This one, which is here recorded in the words
of the confession of one of the chief actors, is an exception. But
_before_ the death of Lincoln, this spirit of fault-finding,
obstruction, hostility, was not uncommon and was painfully aggressive.
_After_ his death there was a revulsion of feeling. Many who had failed
to give the cheer, sympathy, and encouragement which they might have
given in life, shed bitter and unavailing tears over his death.

On the other, the Confederate, side, it is significant that during the
ten days the murderer was in hiding, no southern sympathizer whom he
met wished to arrest him or have him arrested, although a large reward
had been offered for his apprehension. As to the head of the
Confederacy, Jeff Davis, there is no reasonable doubt that he approved
the act and motive of Booth, whether he had given him a definite
commission or not. Davis tried to defend himself by saying that he had
greater objection to Johnson than to Lincoln. But since the conspiracy
included the murder of both Lincoln and Johnson, as well as others,
this defense is very lame. It was certainly more than a coincidence
that Booth--a poor man who had plenty of ready money--and Jacob
Thompson, the Confederate agent in Canada, had dealings with the same
bank in Montreal. Davis himself said, "For an enemy so relentless, in
the war for our subjugation, I could not be expected to mourn."

To put it in the mildest form, neither Jeff Davis in the South, nor the
extreme radicals in the North, were sorry that Lincoln was out of the
way. Extremes had met in the feeling of relief that the late President
was now out of the way. This brings to mind a statement in an ancient
book which records that "Herod and Pilate became friends with each
other that very day; for before they were at enmity between

On Friday evening there had been general rejoicing throughout the loyal
North. On Saturday morning there rose to heaven a great cry of
distress,--such a cry as has hardly been paralleled since the
destruction of the first-born in Egypt. For the telegraph--invented
since Lincoln had come into manhood--had carried the heavy news to
every city and commercial center in the North. The shock plunged the
whole community, in the twinkling of an eye, from the heights of
exultation into the abyss of grief.

There was no business transacted that day. The whole nation was given
up to grief. Offices, stores, exchanges were deserted. Men gathered in
knots and conversed in low tones. By twelve o'clock noon there was
scarcely a public building, store, or residence in any northern city
that was not draped in mourning. The poor also procured bits of black
crepe, or some substitute for it, and tied them to their door-knobs.
The plain people were orphaned. "Father Abraham" was dead.

Here and there some southern sympathizer ventured to express
exultation,--a very rash thing to do. Forbearance had ceased to be a
virtue, and in nearly every such case the crowd organized a lynching
bee in the fraction of a minute, and the offender was thankful to
escape alive.

Though this wave of sorrow swept over the land from ocean to ocean, it
was necessarily more manifest in Washington than elsewhere. There the
crime had been committed. There the President's figure was a familiar
sight and his voice was a familiar sound. There the tragedy was nearer
at hand and more vivid. In the middle of the morning a squad of
soldiers bore the lifeless body to the White House. It lay there in
state until the day of the funeral, Wednesday. It is safe to say that
on the intervening Sunday there was hardly a pulpit in the North, from
which, by sermon and prayer, were not expressed the love of the chief.
On Wednesday, the day of the funeral in Washington, all the churches in
the land were invited to join in solemnizing the occasion.

The funeral service was held in the East room of the White House,
conducted by the President's pastor Dr. Gurley, and his eloquent
friend, Bishop Simpson of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mrs. Lincoln,
prostrated by the shock, was unable to be present, and little Tad would
not come. Only Robert, a recent graduate of Harvard and at the time a
member of Grant's staff, was there to represent the family.

After the service, which was brief and simple, the body was borne with
suitable pomp and magnificence, the procession fittingly headed by
negro troops, to the Capitol, where it was placed in the rotunda until
the evening of the next day. There, as at the White House, innumerable
crowds passed to look upon that grave, sad, kindly face. The negroes
came in great numbers, sobbing out their grief over the death of their
Emancipator. The soldiers, too, who remembered so well his oft repeated
"God bless you, boys!" were not ashamed of their grief. There were also
neighbors, friends, and the general public.

It was arranged that the cortege should return to Springfield over as
nearly as possible the same route as that taken by the President in
1861,--Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York, Albany,
Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Chicago. In the party there were
three of those who had escorted him to Washington,--David Davis, W. H.
Lamon, and General Hunter.

At eight o'clock on Friday, April 21st, the funeral train left
Washington. It is hardly too much to say that it was a funeral
procession two thousand miles in length. All along the route people
turned out, not daunted by darkness and rain--for it rained much of the
time--and stood with streaming eyes to watch the train go by. At the
larger cities named, the procession paused and the body lay for some
hours in state while the people came in crowds so great that it seemed
as if the whole community had turned out. At Columbus and Indianapolis
those in charge said that it seemed as if the entire population of the
state came to do him honor. The present writer has never witnessed
another sight so imposing.

Naturally the ceremonies were most elaborate in New York City. But at
Chicago the grief was most unrestrained and touching. He was there
among his neighbors and friends. It was the state of Illinois that had
given him to the nation and the world. They had the claim of fellow-
citizenship, he was one of them. As a citizen of the state of which
Chicago was the leading city, he had passed all his public life. The
neighboring states sent thousands of citizens, for he was a western man
like themselves, and for the forty-eight hours that he lay in state a
continuous stream of all sorts and conditions of men passed by

In all these cities not a few mottoes were displayed. Most of these
were from his own writings, such as, "With malice toward none, with
charity for all;" and, "We here highly resolve that these dead shall
not have died in vain." Two others are firmly fixed in the mind of the
writer which are here given as a sample of all. The first is from the
Bible: "He being dead yet speaketh." The second is from Shakespeare:

  "His life was gentle, and the elements
  So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up
  And say to all the world, This was a man!"

His final resting-place was Springfield. Here, and in all the
neighboring country, he was known to every one. He had always a kind
word for every one, and now all this came back in memory. His goodness
had not been forgotten. Those whom he had befriended had delighted to
tell of it. They therefore came to do honor not merely to the great
statesman, but to the beloved friend, the warm-hearted neighbor. Many
could remember his grave face as he stood on the platform of the car
that rainy morning in February, 1861, and said, "I now leave, not
knowing when or whether ever I shall return." Between the two days,
what a large and noble life had been lived.

The city had made elaborate preparations for the final services. The
funeral in Springfield was on May 4th. The order of service included a
dirge, a prayer, the reading of his second inaugural address, and an
oration. The latter was by Bishop Simpson and was worthy of the noble
and eloquent orator. It was a beautiful day, the rain which had been
falling during the long journey was over, and May sunshine filled earth
and sky. Near the close of the day the body of the President, together
with that of his little son Willie, which also had been brought from
Washington, was laid in a vault in Oak Ridge cemetery.

A movement was at once set on foot to erect a suitable monument. For
this purpose a few large sums of money were subscribed, but most of it
came in small sums from the plain people. The negro troops contributed
$8,000. The sum of $180,000 in all was raised and a noble structure was
erected. It was dedicated in 1874. The orator of the day was his old-
time friend, Governor, afterwards General, Oglesby. Warm words of
appreciation were added by Generals Grant and Sherman. The former, who
served under him as general and for two terms succeeded him in office,
among other things said, "To know him personally was to love and
respect him for his great qualities of heart and head, and for his
patience and patriotism."

[Illustration: Tomb of Abraham Lincoln at Springfield, Illinois.]

Lincoln was never a resident of Chicago, but he was always a favorite
in that city, even though it was the home of his great rival, Judge
Douglas. It was there he was nominated in 1860, and the city always
felt as if it had a personal claim on him. It has done itself honor by
the construction of Lincoln Park. The chief ornament is a bronze statue
of heroic size, by the sculptor St. Gaudens. The statue represents
Lincoln in the attitude of speaking, and the legend, which is lettered
at the base, is the sublime paragraph that concludes the second
inaugural. The beauty of the park--lawn, flowers, shrubbery, trees--
and the majesty of the statue, constitute a noble memorial of the man
whose name they perpetuate.



           "God's plan
  And measure of a stalwart man."--_Lowell_.

Lincoln's physical characteristics have been sufficiently described,--
his unmanageable height and his giant strength. His mental traits have
been treated in chapter xxxv. We now consider his moral qualities, that
is to say his character.

Conspicuous was his honesty. The sobriquet "Honest Abe Lincoln," which
his neighbors fastened on him in his youth was never lost, shaken off,
or outgrown. This was something more than the exactness of commercial
honesty which forbade him to touch a penny of the funds that remained
over from the extinct post-office of New Salem, though the government
was for years negligent in the matter of settling up. In youth he
always insisted on fairness in sports so that he came to be the
standing umpire of the neighborhood. It came out also in his practise
of the law, when he would not lend his influence to further scoundrel
schemes, nor would he consent to take an unfair advantage of an
opponent. But the glory of his honesty appeared in his administration.
It is a wonderful fact that there has never been any suspicion, even
among his enemies, that he used the high powers of his office for gain,
or for the furtherance of his political ambition. When contracts, to
the amount of many millions of dollars, were being constantly given out
for a period of four years, there was never a thought that a dishonest
dollar would find its way, either directly or indirectly, into the
hands of the President, or with his consent into the hands of his
friends. When he was a candidate for reelection he was fully aware that
some officials of high station were using their prerogatives for the
purpose of injuring him. It was in his power to dismiss these in
disgrace,--and they deserved it. This he refused to do. So long as
they did well their official duties, he overlooked their injustice to
him. No President has surpassed him in the cleanness of his record, and
only Washington has equaled him.

His tenderness of heart over-rode almost everything. In childhood he
would not permit boys to put live coals on the back of a turtle. In
youth he stayed out all night with a drunkard to prevent his freezing
to death, a fate which his folly had invited. In young manhood with the
utmost gentleness he restored to their nest some birdlings that had
been beaten out by the storm. When a lawyer on the circuit, be
dismounted from his horse and rescued a pig that was stuck in the mud.
This spoiled a suit of clothes, because he had to lift the pig in his
arms. His explanation was that he could not bear to think of that
animal in suffering, and so he did it simply for his own peace of mind.

But when he became President, his tenderness of heart was as beautiful
as the glow of the sunset. To him the boys in blue were as sons. On him
as on no one else the burden of the nation's troubles rested. It may
with reverence be said that he "bore our sorrows, he carried our
grief." Not only was this true in general, but in specific cases his
actions showed it. When the soldiers were under sentence from court-
martial--many of them mere boys--the sentence came to Lincoln for
approval. If he could find any excuse whatever for pardon he would
grant it. His tendency to pardon, his leaning towards the side of
mercy, became proverbial and greatly annoyed some of the generals who
feared military discipline would be destroyed. But he would not turn a
deaf ear to the plea of mercy, and he could not see in it any permanent
danger to the republic. One or two examples will stand fairly for a
large number. When a boy was sentenced to death for desertion, he said:

"Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, and not touch a
hair of the wily agitator who induces him to desert? I think that in
such a case, to silence the agitator and save the boy, is not only
constitutional, but withal a great mercy."

Early in the war he pardoned a boy who was sentenced to be shot for
sleeping at his post as sentinel. By way of explanation the President
said: "I could not think of going into eternity with the blood of that
poor young man on my skirts. It is not to be wondered at that a boy,
raised on a farm, probably in the habit of going to bed at dark,
should, when required to watch, fall asleep; and I cannot consent to
shoot him for such an act." The sequel is romantic. The dead body of
this boy was found among the slain on the field of the battle of
Fredericksburg. Next his heart was a photograph of the President on
which he had written "God bless President Abraham Lincoln!"

On the 21st day of November, 1864, he wrote to Mrs. Bixby, of Boston,
Mass., the following letter which needs no comment or explanation:

"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 the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I
cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found
in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray 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,

A different side of his character is shown in the following incident. A
slave-trader had been condemned, in Newburyport, Mass., to a fine of
one thousand dollars and imprisonment for five years. He served out his
term of imprisonment, but he could not pay his fine, because he had no
money and no way of getting any. Consequently he was still held for the
fine which he was unable to pay. Some people of influence interested
themselves in the case, and a congressman from eastern Massachusetts,
who stood very near to the President, laid the facts before him with
the request for a pardon. He was indeed much moved by the appeal, but
he gave his decision in substantially the following words: "My friend,
this appeal is very touching to my feelings, and no one knows my
weakness better than you. I am, if possible to be, too easily moved by
appeals for mercy; and I must say that if this man had been guilty of
the foulest murder that the arm of man could perpetrate, I might
forgive him on such an appeal. But the man who could go to Africa, and
rob her of her children, and then sell them into interminable bondage,
with no other motive than that which is furnished by dollars and cents,
is so much worse than the most depraved murderer that he can never
receive pardon at my hand. No, sir; he may stay in jail forever before
he shall have liberty by any act of mine."

It was his magnanimity that constructed his cabinet. Hardly another man
in the world would have failed to dismiss summarily both Seward and
Chase. But, thanks to his magnanimous forbearance, Seward became not
only useful to the country, but devotedly loyal to his chief. After
Chase's voluntary retirement Lincoln appointed him Chief Justice. To
his credit be it said that he adorned the judiciary, but he never did
appreciate the man who saved him from oblivion, not to say disgrace. Up
to the year 1862, his only personal knowledge of Stanton was such as to
rouse only memories of indignation, but when he believed that Stanton
would make a good Secretary of War he did not hesitate to appoint him.
It is safe to say that this appointment gave Stanton the greatest
surprise of his life.

He was always ready to set aside his preference, or to do the expedient
thing when no moral principle was involved. When such a principle was
involved he was ready to stand alone against the world. He was no
coward. In early youth he championed the cause of temperance in a
community where the use of liquors was almost universal. In the
Illinois legislature and in congress he expressed his repugnance to the
whole institution of slavery, though this expression could do him no
possible good, while it might do him harm. When, he was a lawyer, he
was almost the only lawyer of ability who did not dread the odium sure
to attach to those who befriended negroes.

When in the White House, he stood out almost alone against the clamors
of his constituents and directed the release of Mason and Slidell.

Personally he was a clean man. The masculine vices were abhorrent to
him. He was not profane. He was not vulgar. He was as far removed from
suspicion as Caesar could have demanded of his wife. He was not given
to drink. When a young man he could not be tricked into swallowing
whisky. At the close of the war, a barrel of whisky was sent him from
some cellar in Richmond, as a souvenir of the fall of the city, but he
declined to receive it. Wine was served at the table of the White House
in deference to foreign guests who did not know, and could not be
taught, how to dine without it. As a matter of courtesy he went through
the form of touching the glass to his lips, but he never drank. How
widely his life was separated from many of his associates! The
atmosphere of the White House has been sweeter and purer ever since he
occupied it, and this is largely due to the influence of his
incorruptible purity.

In the matter of religion, he did not wear his heart on his sleeve, and
some of his friends have refused to believe that he was religious. It
is true that he was not a church member, but there were special reasons
for this. The church with which he was naturally affiliated was the
Presbyterian. The most eloquent preacher of that denomination was the
Reverend Dr. Palmer of New Orleans, who was an aggressive champion of
slavery as a divine institution. His teachings were feebly echoed in
thousands of other pulpits. Now Lincoln abhorred slavery. He
incorporated human freedom into his religion. The one point on which he
insisted all his life was that "slavery is wrong!" It may therefore be
seen that the church did not give him a cordial invitation. If this
needs any proof, that proof is found in the fact that the pastors in
Springfield voted almost unanimously against him. Even Peter Cartwright
had denounced him as an atheist.

The marvel is that this did not embitter him against the church. But
all his life long he kept up such bonds of sympathy with the church as
were possible. He bore with the faults of the church and of ministers
with that patience which made his whole character so remarkably
genuine. He was a constant attendant at the services, he was favorable
to all the legitimate work of the church, and he was exceptionally kind
to ministers, though they were often a sore trial to him.

In childhood he would not rest until a clergyman had traveled many
miles through the forests to preach a memorial discourse over the grave
of his mother. When his father was ill he wrote a letter of religious
consolation intended for him: "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."

Hugh McCulloch, in a personal letter to the author, January 28, 1889,
wrote: "He was, as far as I could judge, a pure man, and 'in spirit and
temper' a Christian." His pastor, Dr. Gurley, regarded him as a
Christian. Other clergymen who were acquainted with him did so.

J. G. Holland has preserved the following incident:

Colonel Loomis, who was commandant of Fort Columbus, Governor's Island,
in New York Harbor, reached the age at which by law he should be put on
the retired list. He was a very religious man, and his influence was so
marked that the chaplain and some others, determined to appeal to the
President to have him continued at the post. The Reverend Dr. Duryea of
Brooklyn was sent to Washington to prefer the request. "What does the
clergyman know of military matters?" inquired the President. "Nothing,"
was the reply. "It is desired to retain Colonel Loomis solely for the
sake of his Christian influence. He sustains religious exercises at the
fort, leads a prayer-meeting, and teaches a Bible class in the Sunday
School." "That is the highest possible recommendation," replied the
President. He approved the request, and the Christian officer was
retained there until imperative military duty called him elsewhere.

The religious strain that runs through his papers and addresses cannot
be overlooked. But there are two that deserve special mention. The
first is the "Sunday Order," which is as follows:

"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 the measure of strict necessity. The discipline and character of the
national forces should not suffer, nor the cause they defend be
imperiled, by the profanation of the day or the name of the Most High."

The other is his thanksgiving proclamation. He it was who nationalized
this festival which had previously been local and irregular. His
successors in office have done well to follow his example in the
matter. Every November, when the entire population turns from daily
toil to an hour of thanksgiving, they should not forget that they are
thereby acting on his recommendation, and in doing this they are
strengthening the best possible monument to the grand, good man whom
the Most High mercifully gave to this country in the time of her direst

  "He was a _man_; take him for all in all
  I shall not look upon his like again."



We have now followed the career of Lincoln throughout. It is fitting
that this book should conclude with a record of what some observant men
have said about him. Accordingly this, the last, chapter is willingly
given up to these testimonies. Of course such a list could easily be
extended indefinitely, but the quotations here given are deemed
sufficient for their purpose.

H. W. Beecher:

Who shall recount our martyr's sufferings for this people? Since the
November of 1860 his horizon has been black with storms. By day and by
night, he trod a way of danger and darkness. On his shoulders rested a
government dearer to him than his own life. At its integrity millions
of men were striking home. Upon this government foreign eyes lowered.
It stood like a lone island in a sea full of storms; and every tide and
wave seemed eager to devour it. Upon thousands of hearts great sorrows
and anxieties have rested, but not on one such, and in such measure, as
upon that simple, truthful, noble soul, our faithful and sainted
Lincoln. Never rising to the enthusiasm of more impassioned natures in
hours of hope, and never sinking with the mercurial in hours of defeat
to the depths of despondency, he held on with immovable patience and
fortitude, putting caution against hope, that it might not be
premature, and hope against caution, that it might not yield to dread
and danger. He wrestled ceaselessly through four black and dreadful
purgatorial years, wherein God was cleansing the sin of his people as
by fire....

Then the wail of a nation proclaimed that he had gone from among us.
Not thine the sorrow, but ours, sainted soul! Thou hast indeed entered
the promised land, while we are yet on the march. To us remains the
rocking of the deep, the storm upon the land, days of duty and nights
of watching; but thou art sphered high above all darkness and fear,
beyond all sorrow and weariness. Rest, O weary heart! Rejoice
exceedingly, thou that hast enough suffered! Thou hast beheld Him who
invisibly led thee in this great wilderness. Thou standest among the
elect. Around thee are the royal men that have ennobled human life in
every age. Kingly art thou, with glory on thy brow as a diadem. And joy
is upon thee forevermore. Over all this land, over all this little
cloud of years, that now from thine infinite horizon moves back as a
speck, thou art lifted up as high as the star is above the clouds that
hide us, but never reach it. In the goodly company of Mount Zion thou
shalt find that rest which thou hast sorrowing sought in vain; and thy
name, an everlasting name in heaven, shall flourish in fragrance and
beauty as long as men shall last upon the earth, or hearts remain, to
revere truth, fidelity, and goodness.

... Four years ago, O Illinois, we took from your midst an untried man,
and from among the people. We return him to you a mighty conqueror. Not
thine any more but the Nation's; not ours, but the world's. Give him
place, O ye prairies! In the midst of this great continent his dust
shall rest, a sacred treasure to myriads who shall pilgrim to that
shrine to kindle anew their zeal and patriotism. Ye winds that move
over the mighty places of the West, chant his requiem! Ye people,
behold a martyr whose blood, as so many articulate words, pleads for
for fidelity, for law, for liberty!

Noah Brooks:

He became the type, flower, and representative of all that is worthily
American; in him the commonest of human traits were blended with an
all-embracing charity and the highest human wisdom; with single
devotion to the right he lived unselfishly, void of selfish personal
ambition, and, dying tragically, left a name to be remembered with love
and honor as one of the best and greatest of mankind.

W. C. Bryant:

  Oh, slow to smite and swift to spare,
    Gentle and merciful and just!
   Who, in the fear of God, didst bear
    The sword of power, a nation's trust!

  In sorrow by thy bier we stand,
    Amid the awe that hushes all,
   And speak the anguish of a land
    That shook with horror at thy fall.

  Thy task is done; the bond are free:
    We bear thee to an honored grave,
   Whose proudest monument shall be
    The broken fetters of the slave.

  Pure was thy life; its bloody close
    Hath placed thee with the sons of light,
   Among the noble host of those
    Who perished in the cause of Right.

J. H. Choate:

A rare and striking illustration of the sound mind in the sound body.
He rose to every occasion. He led public opinion. He knew the heart and
conscience of the people. Not only was there this steady growth of
intellect, but the infinite delicacy of his nature and capacity for
refinement developed also, as exhibited in the purity and perfection of
his language and style of speech.

R. W. Emerson:

He had a face and manner which disarmed suspicion, which inspired
confidence, which confirmed good will. He was a man without vices. He
had a strong sense of duty.... He had what the farmers call a long
head.... He was a great worker; he had a prodigious faculty of
performance; worked easily.... He had a vast good nature which made him
accessible to all.... Fair-minded ... affable ... this wise man.

What an occasion was the whirlwind of the war! Here was the place for
no holiday magistrate, no fair-weather sailor; the new pilot was hurled
to the helm in a tornado. In four years,--four years of battle-days,--
his endurance, his fertility of resources, his magnanimity, were sorely
tried and never found wanting. There, by his courage, his justice, his
even temper, his fertile counsel, his humanity, he stood a heroic
figure in the center of a heroic epoch. He is the true history of the
American people in his time. Step by step he walked before them; slow
with their slowness, quickening his march by theirs, the true
representative of this continent; an entirely public man; father of his
country, the pulse of twenty millions throbbing in his heart, the
thought of their minds articulated by his tongue.

J. G. Holland:

Conscience, and not expediency, not temporary advantage, not popular
applause, not the love of power, was the ruling and guiding motive of
his life. He was patient with his enemies, and equally patient with
equally unreasonable friends. No hasty act of his administration can be
traced to his impatience. He had a tender, brotherly regard for every
human being; and the thought of oppression was torment to him.... A
statesman without a statesman's craftiness, a politician without a
politician's meannesses, a great man without a great man's vices, a
philanthropist without a philanthropist's impracticable dreams, a
Christian without pretensions, a ruler without the pride of place and
power, an ambitious man without selfishness, and a successful man
without vanity.

O. W. Holmes:

  Our hearts lie buried in the dust
   With him so true and tender,
  The patriot's stay, the people's trust,
   The shield of the offender.

J. R. Lowell:

On the day of his death, this simple Western attorney, who, according
to one party was a vulgar joker, and whom the _doctrinaires_ among
his own supporters accused of wanting every element of statesmanship,
was the most absolute ruler in Christendom, and this solely by the hold
his good-humored sagacity had laid on the hearts and understandings of
his countrymen. Nor was this all, for it appeared that he had drawn the
great majority not only of his fellow-citizens, but of mankind also, to
his side. So strong and so persuasive is honest manliness without a
single quality of romance or unreal sentiment to help it! A civilian
during times of the most captivating military achievement, awkward,
with no skill in the lower technicalities of manners, he left behind a
fame beyond that of any conqueror, the memory of a grace higher than
that of outward person, and of a gentlemanliness deeper than mere
breeding. Never before that startled April morning did such multitudes
of men shed tears for the death of one whom they had never seen, as if
with him a friendly presence had been taken away from their lives,
leaving them colder and darker. Never was funeral panegyric so eloquent
as the silent look of sympathy which strangers exchanged when they met
on that day. Their common manhood had lost a kinsman.

  Wise, steadfast in the strength of God, and true.
   How beautiful to see
  Once more a shepherd of mankind indeed,
  Who loved his charge, but never loved to lead;
  One whose meek flock the people joyed to be,
   Not lured by any Cheat of birth,
   But by his clear-grained human worth,
  And brave old wisdom of sincerity!

          *          *          *          *          *

  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.

Clara Morris:

God's anointed--the great, the blameless Lincoln.... The homely,
tender-hearted "Father Abraham"--rare combination of courage, justice,
and humanity.

H. J. Raymond:

But there was a native grace, the out-growth of kindness of heart,
which never failed to shine through all his words and acts. His heart
was as tender as a woman's,--as accessible to grief and gladness as a
child's,--yet strong as Hercules to bear the anxieties and
responsibilities of the awful burden that rested on it. Little
incidents of the war,--instances of patient suffering in devotion to
duty,--tales of distress from the lips of women, never failed to touch
the innermost chords of his nature, and to awaken that sweet sympathy
which carries with it, to those who suffer, all the comfort the human
heart can crave. Those who have heard him, as many have, relate such
touching episodes of the war, cannot recall without emotion the
quivering lip, the face gnarled and writhed to stifle the rising sob,
and the patient, loving eyes swimming in tears, which mirrored the
tender pity of his gentle and loving nature. He seemed a stranger to
the harsher and stormier passions of man. Easily grieved, he seemed
incapable of hate.... It is first among the marvels of a marvelous
time, that to such a character, so womanly in all its traits, should
have been committed, absolutely and with almost despotic power, the
guidance of a great nation through a bloody and terrible civil war....

Carl Schurz:

As the state of society in which Abraham Lincoln grew up passes away,
the world will read with increasing wonder of the man who, not only of
the humblest origin, but remaining the simplest and most unpretending
of citizens, was raised to a position of power unprecedented in our
history; who was the gentlest and most peace-loving of mortals, unable
to see any creature suffer without a pang in his own breast, and
suddenly found himself called to conduct the greatest and bloodiest of
our wars; who wielded the power of government when stern resolution and
relentless force were the order of the day, and then won and ruled the
popular mind and heart by the tender sympathies of his nature; who was
a cautious conservative by temperament and mental habit, and led the
most sudden and sweeping social revolution of our time; who, preserving
his homely speech and rustic manner, even in the most conspicuous
position of that period, drew upon himself the scoffs of polite
society, and then thrilled the soul of mankind with utterances of
wonderful beauty and grandeur; who, in his heart the best friend of the
defeated South, was murdered because a crazy fanatic took him for its
most cruel enemy; who, while in power, was beyond measure lampooned and
maligned by sectional passion and an excited party spirit, and around
whose bier friend and foe gathered to praise him--which they have since
never ceased to do--as one of the greatest of Americans and the best of

Henry Watterson:

He went on and on, and never backward, until his time was come, when
his genius, fully developed, rose to the great exigencies intrusted to
his hands.

Where did he get his style? Ask Shakespeare and Burns where they got
their style. Where did he get his grasp upon affairs and his knowledge
of men? Ask the Lord God, who created miracles in Luther and
Bonaparte!... Where did Shakespeare get his genius? Where did Mozart
get his music? Whose hand smote the lyre of the Scottish plowman, and
stayed the life of the German priest? God, God, and God alone; and as
surely as these were raised up by God, inspired by God, was Abraham
Lincoln; and a thousand years hence, no drama, no tragedy, no epic
poem, will be filled with greater wonder, or be followed by mankind
with deeper feeling, than that which tells the story of his life and


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