The Life of Abraham Lincoln (Holland)/Chapter XXIV
The events of 1863, legislative, military, and personal as they relate to Mr. Lincoln, must receive only a brief and condensed review. It will have been noticed, by several incidents that have been recorded in this narrative, and by sundry papers of Mr. Lincoln, that, during the whole of his presidency thus far, he had indulged in projects of colonization of the freed blacks. Congress had so far regarded his suggestions as to place at his disposal a sum of money for experiments in colonization. In August, 1862, he called to the Executive Mansion a representative company of negroes whom he familiarly addressed on the subject, freely telling them of the disadvantages under which they labored, expressing his convictions that they suffered much by living in association with the whites, and uttering his conviction that the whites suffered by living with them, even when they were free. His wish was to have them colonized at some point in Central America; and he promised to spend some of the money intrusted to him, if they would join in sufficient numbers to make an experiment.
In his message delivered to Congress on the opening of the session of 1862-63, he called up the subject again; and communicated information of the measures he had taken, for effecting his wishes, and securing to the blacks the benefits of the congressional provision. He had had correspondence with some of the Spanish-American republics, and they had protested against the reception of black colonies. He had declined to move any colonists forward, under the circumstances, and should still desist, unless they could be protected. Liberia and Hayti were the only countries to which they could go, with the certainty of immediate adoption as citizens; and the blacks manifested a strange indisposition to emigrate to those countries.
This dream of colonization, in which Mr. Lincoln so benevolently indulged, was destined to fail of even partial realization. He loved the negro too well to wish him to remain where the prejudices of race would shut him out from the full recognition of his manhood. He not only wanted him free, but he wanted him located where he might receive all the rights of citizenship, and where he could live--self-respectful and independent--in the society of his equals and his race. It was a matter of pitying wonder with him that the negro should love to live with a race that abused him, and held him at so low a value in the scale of humanity.
All the closing portion of this message was devoted to an earnest discussion of the scheme of compensated emancipation. Notwithstanding he had issued his preliminary proclamation of freedom to the slaves of rebels, and expected soon to complete that work; and notwithstanding his conviction that slavery could not long survive this proclamation, even in the loyal slave states, he never forgot that neither over slavery in these states, the Constitution nor the necessities of war gave him any control. One thing he did forget, viz: that these states had uniformly turned their backs upon all his earnest and kindly efforts to save them from a loss which he was certain must ultimately fall upon them.
With the exposition of his views upon this subject, Mr. Lincoln submitted the draft of a resolution embodying his policy. This resolution proposed certain articles as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, to be acted upon by the legislatures or conventions of the several states. These articles, by being adopted by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states, should become valid, and be held as parts of the Constitution. They provided that every slave state which should voluntarily abolish the slave system at any date previous to the year 1900, should receive a specified compensation. Slaves who should be freed by the chances of war should remain free, though loyal masters should receive compensation for them. The closing article provided that Congress might "appropriate money, and otherwise provide for colonizing free colored persons, with their own consent, at any place or places without the United States."
Sudden emancipation was never in accordance with Mr. Lincoln's judgment. Nothing but the necessities of war would have induced him to decree it with relation to the slaves of any state. His thought was, that, by giving every state the opportunity to terminate slavery in its own way, within a period of thirty-seven years, the institution could be removed without a shock to the prosperity and the social institutions of the whites, and without bringing to the blacks a freedom which many of them, at least, would not know how to use. The stress of feeling under which he urged this measure, is sufficiently exhibited by the closing paragraph of the message: "Fellow citizens,"--thus reads the passage--"We cannot escape history. We of this Congress, and this Administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say that we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we know how to save it... In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free--honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last, best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not, cannot, fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just--a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless."
Allusion has been made, in the preceding chapter, to the action of this session, on the subject of arbitrary arrests; and the subject does not need to be recalled further than to say that the discussion which it excited fully illustrated the political antagonisms which, prevalent among the people, were brought into thorough exposition by their representatives. In the precise degree in which the members of both houses sympathized with treason, or were excited by their party feelings against the general policy of the government toward the rebellion, did they oppose the suspension of the write of habeas corpus. The same rule good, with rare exceptions, with relation to the discussion of a project for arming the blacks. There were some friends of the government from the border states who were very timid and doubtful about the adoption of this measure: but the majority of the House agreed to it; and the Senate would undoubtedly have done the same, had not the committee to which the matter was referred reported that the President already had the power to call persons of African descent into the military and naval service, by an act passed during the previous session.
The same antagonisms were exhibited concerning a measure for enrolling and drafting the militia of the different states, so that each state should be compelled to contribute its equitable quota, the troops when raised to be under the control of the President. The absolute necessity of this measure was attributable partly to the stage at which the war had arrived--when the surplus population was all in the army, and it was essential to draw upon the vital resources of the country--and partly to party feeling and party policy. Either through the failure of McClellan's campaign, or the effect of the emancipation proclamation, or the influence of both together, the administration had received a rebuke through the autumn elections of 1862. This had greatly encouraged the opposition, who, as opponents of the war, or as most unreliable friends of the President's war policy, so conducted their counsels that the government became fearful concerning its ability to raise men for the campaign of 1863. Just in proportion to the treasonable sympathies of the members of the Senate and the House, did they oppose the measure. The bill was finally passed and approved; and it became an efficient instrument in the hands of the government for prosecuting the war. It contained provisions for procuring substitutes, for exemption by the payment of three hundred dollars, a clause defining the conditions of exemption, &c.
Much of the session was devoted to a discussion of measures of finance, which ended in giving the Secretary of the Treasury leave to borrow nine hundred millions of dollars, bearing six per cent interest, payable in not less than ten nor more than forty years. The Secretary was authorized to issue four hundred millions in treasury notes bearing interest, and a hundred and fifty millions without interest. To meet the immediate necessities of the army and navy, especially as they related to debts due the soldiers and sailors, authority was given for the issue of one hundred millions of treasury notes, before the leading measures of finance were perfected.
The latter measure was signed by the President at once, in order that the soldiers and marines might have their due; but he took occasion, in a special message, to express his regret that it had been found necessary to make so large an additional issue of United States notes, at a time when the combined circulation of those notes and the notes of the suspended banks had advanced the prices of everything beyond real values, augmenting the cost of living, to the injury of labor, and the cost of supplies, to the injury of the country. "It seems very plain," he said, "that continued issues of United States notes, without any check to the issues of suspended banks, and without any adequate provision for the raising of money by loans, and for funding the issues, so as to keep them within due limits, must soon produce disastrous consequences." He had already, in his annual message, advocated the national bank system for the production of a uniform currency, secured by the pledge of United States bonds, thus increasing the demand for the bonds. A bill for the object desired was passed by small majorities, and approved. It was a doubtful measure, and touched a great many selfish and corporate interests, carrying more or less of disturbance into the various financial systems of the states; but the country has had no reason to find fault with its results.
Two events during the session marked the beginning of those reconstructive measures which were destined eventually to embrace all the members of the old Union. Western Virginia, loyal from the first, was admitted into the Union as a state; and two representatives from Louisiana were admitted to the House, under the representation, on the part of the committee to which their application was referred, that they had been elected in accordance with the constitutional conditions and provisions of that state.
When Congress adjourned, it left the Executive strong in all the powers and prerogatives necessary for the successful prosecution of the war. The president's hands were strengthened by competent financial provisions, by the confirmation of his power to arrest and hold suspicious and inimical persons, and by authority to levy upon the militia of the states for such force as might be necessary to effect the purposes of the government. His efforts for measures of compensated emancipation failed. A single measure concerning Missouri miscarried through the failure of the House to confirm the action of the Senate.
On the twenty-second of November, 1862, two months after Mr. Lincoln issued his proclamation suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the opponents of the government became so quiet that an order was issued from the War Department, discharging from further military restraint all those persons who had been arrested for discouraging volunteer enlistments, opposing the draft, or otherwise giving aid and comfort to the enemy, in all states where the draft had been effected, or the quota of volunteers and militia had been furnished. The order also released persons held in military custody who had been arrested for disloyalty by the military governors of rebel states, on giving their parole to do no act of hostility against the United States. They had the liberty to live under military surveillance; or to go to the rebel states, not to return until after the war, or until they should be permitted to do so by the President. The suspension of the writ, and the acts which accompanied it, accomplished their object temporarily; but, at the close of the session of Congress, in March, the more malicious of the malcontents began their foul work again. Undoubtedly the country was tired of the war; and many of the weaker and more unreasoning classes, finding themselves more than ever in the hands of the government by the legislation of the winter, lent willing ears to disloyal politicians. Agitation against the war was revived. The people were called upon to mark the great sacrifices they had already uselessly made; the war was declared to be a failure, and peace as far off as ever; and the country was adjured to demand a cessation of the coercive policy.
Among the most pestilent of these sympathizers with traitors, was Clement L. Vallandigham of Ohio--a person who, as a member of Congress, stump politician and private citizen, had opposed the war from the start. In Congress, he had steadily voted against every measure instituted by the government for maintaining the integrity of the nation and putting down the rebellion. Not a step did the President take, in the execution of his purpose, that Vallandigham did not dispute. Indeed, he offered in the House resolutions of censure for those early acts of the President in calling out a military force, by which alone Washington was saved from capture. His language in the House had been so bitter and disloyal that the feelings of every friend of the government had been outraged. Going home from Congress, where he had been engaged in his foul work, he entered upon a canvass of his district, denouncing the government, and maligning its motives. The tendency of his malicious utterances was to weaken the hands of the Executive in its great work of subduing the insurrection, and to give aid and comfort to the national enemies.
General Burnside, then in command of the Department o£ the Ohio, issued an order (Number 88,) announcing that thereafter all persons found within the federal lines who should commit acts for the benefit of the enemy would be tried as spies or traitors; and, if convicted, would suffer death. This order, the demagogue publicly denounced; and then he called upon the people to resist its execution. General Burnside arrested him at once, and ordered him to be tried by court-martial at Cincinnati. On the fifth of May, the day following his arrest, he applied to the United States Circuit Court for a writ of habeas corpus; and after an elaborate argument from his counsel, and the reading of a long letter from General Burnside giving the reasons for his arrest, Judge Leavitt decided against his application, giving his opinion that "The legality of the arrest depends upon the extent of the necessity for making it; and that was to be determined by the military commander." Judge Leavitt dealt with the case nobly. "Those who live under the protection and enjoy the blessings of our benignant government," said he, "must learn that they cannot stab its vitals with impunity. If they remain with us, while they are not of us, they must be subject to such a course of dealing as the great law of self-preservation prescribes and will enforce." Further, he said: "I confess I am but little moved by the eloquent appeals of those who, while they indignantly denounce violation of personal liberty, look with no horror upon a despotism as unmitigated as the world has ever witnessed."
On the following day, Vallandigham had his trial, was convicted, and was sentenced to confinement in some fortress of the United States, to be designated by General Burnside, who approved the finding of the court, and designated Fort Warren as his prison. The President, however, modified the sentence, and directed that the convict should be sent within the rebel lines, among the people which he held in such cordial sympathy, with the direction that he should not return until after the termination of the war. The man thus sent to his own found safe conduct through the rebel states, and managed to reach Canada, from whose territory he subsequently emerged, without waiting for the termination of the war, and without saying to the President, "By your leave."
There were numbers of men in the loyal states who were quite as guilty as Mr. Vallandigham, even if less bold than he. These took alarm. If Mr. Vallandigham could be arrested and sent within the rebel lines for abasing the motives acts of the government, who, that sympathized with Mr. Vallandigham, was safe? It was a natural and pertinent inquiry. So they began to hold public meetings, to denounce the government, and to call upon the President to reconsider his act in Vallandigham's case. Governor Seymour of New York was powerfully exercised in the matter, and wrote a very spirited letter to one of these meetings held in Albany, on the sixteenth of May. If the Ohio demagogue used treasonable language, it is hard to see why the New York governor did not. The sanction of the act by which Vallandigham was sent among his friends, by President and people, was, in his opinion, not only despotism but revolution. He almost copied the language of the convict himself. Mr. Vallandigham had said that the government was aiming not to restore the Union, but to crush out liberty. Governor Seymour said: "The action of the administration will determine, in the minds of more than one half of the people in the loyal states, whether this war is waged to put down rebellion in the South, or destroy free institutions at the North."
This meeting and others of the same kind, held in the leading cities of the Union, denounced arbitrary arrests and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, protested against Vallandigham's sentence, and called upon the President to recall their injured friend and protege. A month after Vallandigham was banished, the Democratic State Convention of Ohio met, and, by almost a unanimous vote, nominated him as their candidate for governor, and Senator Pugh, his legal counsel, as their candidate for lieutenant governor. They also sent a committee to Washington to demand of the President the recall of their candidate. The letter which they bore was answered at length by the President; and he gave the supporters of Mr. Vallandigham a very plain talk. He told them what he believed to be the facts touching Mr. Vallandigham's words and influence, in opposition to those means which the government deemed indispensable to its own preservation, and then said: "Your own attitude, therefore, encourages desertion, resistance to the draft, and the like, because it teaches those who incline to desert and to escape the draft, to believe it is your purpose to protect them." He told them, however, that the proceedings in Mr. Vallandigham's case were "for prevention, not for punishment--an injunction to stay an injury;"--and that the modification of General Burnside's order was made as a less disagreeable mode to Mr. Vallandigham himself of securing the desired prevention.
It is hardly to be doubted that Mr. Lincoln would never, of his own motion, have arrested the greatly over-rated subject of these discussions. He had talked as badly in Washington as he had in Ohio, and lost no opportunity to abuse the President himself; but Mr. Lincoln very severely let him alone. When, therefore, he clandestinely returned, a year afterwards, and fulminated his threats against the government, in case he should be arrested in any way except by officers of the civil tribunals, he was permitted to say what he pleased. The people of Ohio had already decided against him by a majority of one hundred thousand votes; and he had lost his power for harm, except where he might choose to bestow his friendship.
To the resolutions passed by the Albany meeting of which Hon. Erastus Corning was president, Mr. Lincoln made an elaborate reply. This was his favorite field. He had got hold of a case to argue; and its importance, in his apprehension, may be judged by the fact that he spent more time and exhausted more pains upon this paper than upon any other written during his administration, messages included. It was intended to be the full and exhaustive vindication of his policy, upon the subjects it covered, before the American people; and the American people so regarded it. No headway could be made against it, and no serious and candid attempt was made to answer it.
These pages will not give space to the entire document, or even a review of the argument; but some of its illustrations may be cited as giving its drift and style. In arguing the necessity of the arrest of those who were known to be traitors, but who had committed no overt act of treason, he said: "General John C. Breckinridge, General Robert E. Lee, General Joseph E. Johnston, General John B. Magruder, General William B. Preston, General Simon B. Buckner, and Commodore Franklin Buchanan, now occupying the very highest places in the rebel war service, were all within the power of the government since the war began, and were nearly as well known to be traitors then as now. Unquestionably, if we had seized and held them, the insurgent cause would be much weaker. But no one of them had committed any crime defined in the law. Every one of them, if arrested, would have been discharged on habeas corpus, were the writ allowed to operate. In view of these and similar cases, I think the time not unlikely to come when I shall be blamed for having made too few arrests, rather than too many."
Certainly here was a case in point; and it is hard to see why reasoning that applies so well to those men would not apply as well to those still in the power of the government, who had notoriously so opposed the war as to hinder that government from conquering the traitors named. Mr. Vallandigham "was not arrested," he said, "because he was damaging the political prospects of the administration, or the personal interests of the commanding general; but because he was damaging the army, upon the existence and vigor of which the life of the nation depends." Furthermore: "Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier-boy, who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a 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."
The Albany meeting had spoken to Mr. Lincoln as "democrats." To this aspect of the matter he paid his addresses. He would have preferred to meet them on the higher platform of "American citizens," at such a time; but, since he was denied this privilege, he comforted himself with the reflection that all democrats did not believe with them. General Burnside, who arrested Mr. Vallandigham, was a democrat. Judge Leavitt, who refused to release him on the writ of habeas corpus, was also a democrat who received his mantle from the hand of Jackson himself; and speaking of Jackson reminded him of an incident in point: "After the battle of New Orleans, and while the fact that the treaty of peace had been concluded was well known in the city, but before official knowledge of it had arrived, General Jackson still maintained martial or military law. Now that it could be said the war was over, the clamor against martial law, which had existed from the first, grew more furious. Among other things, a Mr. Louiallier published a denunciatory newspaper article. General Jackson arrested him. A lawyer by the name of Morel procured the United States Judge Hall to issue a writ of habeas corpus to relieve Mr. Louiallier. General Jackson arrested both the lawyer and the Judge. A Mr. Hollander ventured to say of some part of the matter that it was a 'dirty trick.' General Jackson arrested him. When the officer undertook to serve the writ of habeas corpus, General Jackson took it from him, and sent him away with a copy. Holding the Judge in custody a few days, the General sent him beyond the limits of his encampment, and set him at liberty, with an order to remain until the ratification of peace should be regularly announced, or until the British should have left the southern coast. A day or two more elapsed, the ratification of a treaty of peace was regularly announced, and the Judge and others were fully liberated. A few days more, and the Judge called General Jackson into court, and fined him one thousand dollars for having arrested him and the others named. The General paid the fine, and there the matter rested for nearly thirty years, when Congress refunded principal and interest."
Mr. Lincoln could not avoid adding that Senator Douglas, then a member of the House, was a prominent advocate of this democratic measure; and remarking: "First, that we had the same constitution then as now; second, that we then had a case of invasion, and now we have a case of rebellion; and, third, that the permanent right of the people to public discussion, the liberty of speech and of the press, the trial by jury, the law of evidence, and the habeas corpus, suffered no detriment whatever by that conduct of General Jackson, or its subsequent approval by the American Congress."
To obviate an objection made to the course of the administration, in permitting the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus to be suspended at the pleasure of the heads of military departments, thus delegating the authority, Mr. Lincoln, by proclamation on the fifteenth day of September, suspended the writ throughout the United States.
Under the enrollment act, passed March third, a draft of militia was ordered for July, and was effected without serious disturbance, except in a single instance, in the city of New York. Great efforts had been made by interested politicians, during the spring and summer, to make certain provisions of the act odious to the people, especially to the lower and more unreasoning classes. The clause exempting from conscription on the payment of three hundred dollars, was represented to be intended for the benefit of the rich; and the bad passions of the mob were wrought upon in various ways. The first day of the draft in New York, July eleventh, though attended with some excitement, witnessed no outbreak or violent opposition: but the Sunday that intervened between that day and the resumption of the draft on the thirteenth, afforded an opportunity for organization: and, when the fateful wheels started again, one of them was seized by a mob, and destroyed; and the building which contained it was fired. For four days thereafter, New York was under the reign of riot. The troops were all away, having been called upon to resist the invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania. During this fearful period, the most fiendish outrages were visited upon the harmless black population of the city, houses belonging to prominent supporters of the government were sacked and burned, and plunder became the one ruling passion of all the worst inhabitants of the city. Those who had led on the mob, as a demonstration against the draft, soon found that they could not direct the whirlwind, and that the passions they had aroused were altogether beyond their control. Women and children of the lowest classes gave free rein to their thievish impulses; and, after a single day of riot, the draft was forgotten in the greed for spoil. The disgraceful proceedings were not stayed until the return of the regiments that had been sent away.
The Governor of New York, friendly neither to the administration nor to the draft, asked for a postponement of the measure of conscription until volunteering could be tried; and he complained of certain inequalities of the government requisitions in certain districts of the state. Mr. Lincoln replied, temporarily yielding the point in relation to four districts, and promising a careful re-enrollment, but saying that the draft must be proceeded with. The Governor wished for delay, also, in order that the constitutionality of the draft law might be tried. Mr. Lincoln replied that he should be willing to facilitate the bringing of the law before the Supreme Court, but he could not consent to lose the time. "We are contending," said he, "with an enemy who, as I understand, drives every able-bodied man he can reach into his ranks, very much as a butcher drives bullocks into a slaughter-pen. No time is wasted, no argument is used. This produces an army which will soon turn upon our now victorious soldiers, already in the field, if they shall not be sustained by recruits as they should be. It produces an army with a rapidity not to be matched on our side, if we first waste time to re-experiment with the volunteer system, already deemed by Congress, and palpably, in fact, so far exhausted as to be inadequate; and then more time to obtain a court decision as to whether a law is constitutional which requires a part of those not now in the service to go to the aid of those already in it; and still more time to determine with absolute certainty that we get those who are to go in the precisely legal proportion to those who are not to go." The Governor was still in trouble about the inequality of the quotas in the districts, and regretted that the President would not suspend the draft. The President understood his duty, and did not misunderstand Governor Seymour; and the draft was resumed and peacefully consummated, through measures of protection instituted by the war department.
The popularity of Mr. Lincoln and his administration had entirely recovered from whatever depressing influence the emancipation policy had occasioned, and from the effects of the Peninsular campaign. His determined pursuit of duty, whatever the consequences might be to himself, won him friends among his enemies. The spring elections of 1863 showed a reaction from those of the previous autumn, and the fall elections confirmed his growing popularity. The elections in New York were a direct and decided indorsement of the draft in that state, and, in the same degree, a condemnation of those who had opposed it. Ohio decided Mr. Vallandigham's case by giving a tremendous majority on the side of the government. Pennsylvania re-elected Governor Curtin by an unexpected majority; and the same successes occurred in every state, with the single exception of New Jersey. To Mr. Lincoln, who watched the indications of the public feeling and opinion with constant anxiety, these events brought great relief and encouragement. The South had been watching for outbreaks, and its northern friends had been prophesying them. The South had been expecting the growth of a peace party, and its northern friends had endeavored to bring one into the field; but the fall elections of 1863 crushed the rebel expectations; and the whole North was regarded by the traitors as bound to the fortunes of that horrible tyrant--that blood-thirsty boor--Abraham Lincoln. In the meantime, Mr. Lincoln had made great progress in the esteem of foreign governments and foreign peoples, of which he received abundant testimonials.
Early in the year, the working men of Manchester, England, sent him a letter, to which he gave a grateful and cordial reply. They, although greatly suffering in consequence of the war, sent him their sympathy; and in his reply, he said to them: "It has been often and studiously represented that the attempt to overthrow this government, which was built upon the foundation of human rights, and to substitute for it one which should rest exclusively upon the basis of human slavery, was likely to obtain the favor of Europe. Through the action of our disloyal citizens, the working men of Europe have been subjected to severe trial, for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that attempt. Under these circumstances, I cannot but regard your decisive utterances upon the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism, which has not been surpassed in any age, or in any country... I do not doubt that the sentiments you have expressed will be sustained by your great nation; and, on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assuring you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people."
In a letter written August twenty-sixth, to James C. Conkling, in reply to an invitation to attend a mass meeting of "unconditional Union men," to be held at his old home in Springfield, Illinois, it is evident that Mr. Lincoln was hopeful and confident of results. In this letter he treated again of the subject of emancipation; and handled the clamorer for peace, the enemies of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the advocates of compromise, with most admirable skill. The closing paragraphs are peculiarly keen, clear and sparkling:
"You say that you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you; but no matter. Fight you, then, exclusively to save the Union. I issued the Proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time then for you to declare you win not fight to free negroes. I thought that, in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do anything for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive, even the promise of freedom. And the promise, being made, must be kept.
"The signs look better. 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 up 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 webfeet 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 clinched 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."
The military events of the year were of great importance, and, on the whole, well calculated to give hope, not only to Mr. Lincoln, but to the loyal people of the whole country. After the battle of Fredericksburg, in December, 1862, the army of the Potomac did nothing for several months. Late in April--General Burnside having meantime been relieved, and General Hooker placed in command--a movement was made across the river, and the battle of Chancellorsville was fought, which resulted in the retreat of our army, and a loss of eighteen thousand men. It was a sad beginning of the year's operations, and was followed by the invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania by the whole of General Lee's forces. The invasion took place in June; and it was accomplished so quickly, so easily, and by so great a force, that the whole country became terribly excited. The President issued a proclamation calling for one hundred thousand militia to assist in driving back the foe. The army under Hooker crossed the Potomac at about the same time with the army of Lee, and both entered Maryland together. Here General Hooker was relieved, and General Meade placed in command, who, finding the enemy advancing toward and into Pennsylvania, pushed forward with his army to dispute the movement. On the first of July, the battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania began; and it raged with terrific energy for three days. It was one of the most brilliant and terrible battles of the war. On the fifth of July, the enemy, who had been terribly punished, and saw that his invasion was a failure, retreated, and was pursued by our weary forces back to the old position on the Rappahannock. At the close of the fighting on the third, it was evident that the enemy was whipped; and the President announced the fact on the fourth, by a dispatch sent over the whole country, stating that the news was such as to cover the army with the highest honor, and to promise a great success to the cause of the Union. With characteristic reverence, he closed by expressing his desire that on that day--the anniversary of the national independence--"He whose will, not ours, should ever be done, be everywhere remembered, and reverenced with profoundest gratitude." Our losses in this battle, in killed, wounded and missing, amounted to twenty-three thousand men, while those of the enemy were much greater, leaving, indeed, fourteen thousand prisoners in our hands. The state of Pennsylvania, with considerate liberality, subsequently purchased a piece of land adjoining the cemetery of the town, where much severe fighting took place, as a burial ground for the loyal dead of the great battle. This place was dedicated on the succeeding nineteenth of November, in the presence of Mr. Lincoln and his cabinet, Hon. Edward Everett delivering the formal address of the occasion. The brief remarks of Mr. Lincoln. though brought into immediate comparison with the elaborate eloquence of the venerable Massachusetts orator, were very effective, and betrayed a degree of literary ability quite unexpected to those who had read only his formal state papers. He said:
"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon 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 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 the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Did Mr. Everett say more or better in all his pages than Mr. Lincoln said in these lines? Yet they were written after he left Washington, and during a brief interval of leisure.
The Fourth of July was further rendered memorable by the surrender of the city of Vicksburg--the stronghold of the Mississippi River--by General Pemberton to General Grant, with all his defenses and his army of thirty thousand men. After various unsuccessful operations, beginning with the year, contemplating the capture of this city, General Grant ran by the batteries with his transports, and landed far down the river, to attempt the approach of the city from the rear. Fighting all the way, and winning every battle, he reached Jackson, and then advanced westward, directly upon the doomed town. General Pemberton, in the endeavor to dispute his progress, lost at Baker's Creek four thousand men and twenty-nine pieces of artillery. On the banks of the Big Black, the enemy gave battle again, and was again defeated, with a loss of nearly three thousand men, and seventeen pieces of artillery. Then Pemberton fell back behind his defenses, which he did not leave till, on the national anniversary, he and his army marched forth as prisoners of war, leaving behind them more than two hundred cannon, and seventy thousand stand of small-arms. Four days later, Port Hudson, which had been closely besieged by an army advancing from the south, under General Banks, surrendered with seven thousand prisoners and fifty cannon.
Thus was the confederacy cut in twain; and from that hour its cause was doomed. Not a life was lost afterwards that was not lost in the destruction and defense of a hopeless cause. "The Father of Waters," wrote Mr. Lincoln, in glad and poetic mood, to Mr. Conkling, "again goes unvexed to the sea." It was a great event, and one which might well fill the heart of the President with exultation.
These victories gave great encouragement to the loyal people of the country; and, from the day of their occurrence, there was but little doubt among them of the final triumph of the national cause. In Washington, there were great rejoicings; and of course there was a popular call upon Mr. Lincoln, who, in response to a serenade, came out, and made a brief speech. These calls were not occasions in which he delighted, and it was honest and characteristic for him to say, in beginning: "I am very glad indeed to see you to-night, and yet I will not say I thank you for this call; but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called."
Another very characteristic utterance of Mr. Lincoln, in connection with these events, was a letter written to General Grant, July thirteenth, in which he took occasion to acknowledge that results had confirmed the General's judgment rather than his own:
"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 write to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally did--march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition and the like could succeed. When you got below, and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I wish now to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right and I was wrong."
The President's praise of General Grant was the voice of the country. The capture of Vicksburg, with its preliminary battles, was the work of a great general, and one of the most brilliant feats in the history of war. The country felt that it had one man, at least, who was not only thoroughly in earnest, but who was the master of his profession.
The operations in the west were pursued with various fortunes during the year; but with final results wholly in our favor. On the fifth of January, a battle occurred at Murfreesboro, which ended in the federal occupation of the place, and the falling back of the enemy to Tullahoma, where he entrenched himself. On the twenty-fifth of June, General Rosecrans advanced, and made an attack, driving Bragg and his army back in confusion. Pursuit was made as far as practicable, and Bragg kept up his retreat until he reached Chattanooga. Rosecrans came up with him August twenty-first, and then Bragg retired again, but, after receiving reinforcements, turned, and, on September nineteenth, made an attack upon our army. The engagement was a desperate one, inflicting severe losses upon the federal forces; but the rebels gained no permanent advantages. Burnside at Knoxville had been ordered to join Rosecrans, but had failed to do so, and, after the battle, Longstreet's corps of the rebel army was sent against him, while the enemy held his main force at or near Chattanooga. On the twenty-fifth of November, General Grant, who, having finished up his Vicksburg job, had assumed command, attacked Bragg, and utterly routed him, crowding him back into Georgia. Then Grant paid his respects to Longstreet, who was besieging Knoxville, and that General made safe his retreat into Virginia.
Mr. Lincoln, who had prayed for all these successes, referred them directly and at once to the favor of God. His announcement of the federal success at Gettysburg was accompanied by a call upon the people to remember and reverence Him with profoundest gratitude. After the fall of Vicksburg, he publicly thanked Almighty God for the event. On the fifteenth of July, he issued a proclamation, setting apart the sixth day of August to be observed as a day for national thanksgiving, praise and prayer: inviting the people to "render the homage due to the Divine Majesty, for the wonderful things he has done in the nation's behalf: and invoke the influences of his Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion; to change the hearts of the insurgents; to guide the counsels of the government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency; and to visit with tender care and consolation, throughout the length and breadth of our land, all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body, or estate; and, finally, to lead the whole nation through paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will, back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace." On the third of October he issued another proclamation of thanksgiving, setting apart the last Thursday of November as the day to be observed. The spirit of tender piety which this document breathed in every part, could only have come from a heart surcharged with that spirit. Still again, having heard of the retreat of the insurgent forces from East Tennessee, he issued a dispatch on the seventh of December, recommending all loyal people, on the receipt of the information. to assemble at their places of worship, "and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause."
One of the most vexatious events of the year, to Mr. Lincoln, was the quarrel among his friends in Missouri, dating as far back as the removal of General Fremont, and not frowned upon by that General at its inception. An order of General Halleck, who succeeded General Hunter in Missouri, excluding fugitive slaves from his lines, though issued only for military reasons, helped on the discord. Then came discussions and action concerning emancipation, the parties dividing on the issue of gradual or immediate emancipation; and this was followed, or accompanied, by disagreement between the commander of the federal forces and Governor Gamble, controlling the state troops, raised originally as auxiliary to the government. General Curtis, who was in command of the department, was removed because he and Governor Gamble could not agree, and not because he had done any wrong; and General Schofield was put in his place. This offended Governor Gamble's enemies, and they remonstrated. Mr. Lincoln, in a note written at this time, said: "It is very painful to me that you, in Missouri, cannot or will not settle your factional quarrel among yourselves. I have been tormented with it beyond endurance for a month, by both sides. Neither side pays the least respect to my appeals to your reason."
General Fremont's friends wanted him recalled, and desired him to be military governor, setting Governor Gamble aside. Deputations, committees, and independent partisans visited Washington to "torment" the President still more. Each carried back a report, and made the most of it, to feed the quarrel. During the summer of 1863, the public feeling came up to fever heat. Gradual emancipationists were denounced as traitors by the radical emancipation party, which claimed to represent the only loyal elements of the state; and, of course, gradual emancipationists retorted the charge, and assumed the claim. On the fifth of October, the President wrote a long letter, reviewing the whole case, in his own frank and lucid way. He also sent a letter of instruction to General Schofield, in which he directed him so to use his power as "to compel the excited people there to let one another alone." Neither the letter nor the instructions produced the slightest effect in quieting the political agitation, or softening the personal feeling which accompanied it. The department was subsequently placed under the command of General Rosecrans; and the quarrel itself died out, or ceased to attract public and presidential attention. In the President's letter to General Schofield, at the time of his appointment, he said to him: "If both factions or neither abuse you, you will probably be about right. Beware of being assailed by one and praised by the other." Judged by his own rule in this case, the President was as nearly right as he could be, for both sides abused him thoroughly. Let it be said, however, to their credit, that, at the succeeding presidential election, both supported him, and contributed to his triumph.