Page:Abraham Lincoln address (1909).djvu/33

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


assassination, he recalled the suggestion for the assembling of the Virginia Legislature because of the fact, as alleged, that conditions had changed since he made that suggestion; and the great change in these conditions was the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. And Colonel McClure himself says, at page 227:

"What policy of reconstruction Lincoln would have adopted, had he lived to complete his great work, cannot now be known."

We have reached the conclusion, therefore, that there is no good reason to believe, and certainly no satisfactory evidence on which to found the opinion, that had Mr. Lincoln survived the war he would have been either willing or able to withstand the oppressions of the malicious and revengeful men in his cabinet and in Congress in their determination to further punish the people of the already prostrate and bleeding South, to which condition of affairs he had done so much to contribute. A striking evidence of this is furnished by the statement of Admiral Porter, who was with Mr. Lincoln when he came to Richmond immediately after the evacuation. Admiral Porter says that when Lincoln told him he had authorized the re-assembling of the Virginia Legislature, and began to reflect on what Seward would have to say about this, he (Lincoln) sent a messenger post haste to General Weitzel and revoked the order before he left Richmond. (See Porter's Naval History, p. 779.

Although Andrew Johnson was, as we heard General Wise say of him, "as dirty as cart-wheel grease" we have always believed he withstood the malice of these bad men longer than Mr. Lincoln would have done, and that he (Johnson) really tried to help the South after the war, as we know that he tried to prevent the adoption and carrying out of the wicked "Reconstruction" measures.

We know that on May 9, 1865, within less than a month from his inauguration, Johnson issued an executive order restoring Virginia to the Union; that on the 22d of the same month he proclaimed that all the Southern ports, except four in Texas, should be opened to foreign commerce on July 1, 1865; that on the 29th of May he issued a general amnesty proclamation (with some notable exceptions), after which the irreconcilable differences between him and his party became so fierce and bitter that he was obstructed in every way possible, and came very near being impeached, and