Six Months at the White House/XXVII
There was one marked element of Mr. Lincoln's character admirably expressed by the Hon. Mr. Colfax, in his oration at Chicago upon his death: "When his judgment, which acted slowly, but which was almost as immovable as the eternal hills when settled, was grasping some subject of importance, the arguments against his own desires seemed uppermost in his mind, and, in conversing upon it, he would present those arguments to see if they could be rebutted."
In illustration of this, it is only necessary to recall the fact that the interview between himself and the Chicago delegation of clergymen, appointed to urge upon him the issue of a proclamation of emancipation, took place September 13, 1862, more than a month after he had declared to the Cabinet his established purpose to take this step. He said to this committee: "I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope's bull against the comet!" After drawing out their views upon the subject, he concluded the interview with these memorable words:--
"Do not misunderstand me, because I have mentioned these objections. They indicate the difficulties which have thus far prevented my action in some such way as you desire. I have not decided against a proclamation of liberty to the slaves, but hold the matter under advisement. And I can assure you that the subject is on my mind, by day and night, more than any other. Whatever shall appear to be God's will, I will do! I trust that, in the freedom with which I have canvassed your views, I have not in any respect injured your feelings."
In further evidence of this peculiarity of his mind, I will state that notwithstanding his apparent hesitation in the appointment of a successor to Judge Taney, it is well known to his most intimate friends, that "there had never been a time during his Presidency, when, in the event of the death of Judge Taney, he had not fully intended and expected to nominate Salmon P. Chase for Chief Justice." These were his very words uttered in connection with this subject.