Six Months at the White House/Preface
In offering this volume to the public I shall attempt no apology for its shortcomings, other than to say that its production is the result of the unexpected popularity of the series of articles, relating to the illustrious subject of whom it mainly treats, which were commenced in the New York "Independent" soon after the assassination.
Written in a spirit of enthusiasm and affection, which there has been no effort to disguise, the book is, nevertheless, a simple matter-of-fact record of daily experience and observation, fragmentary, but true, in all essential particulars. There has been no disposition to select from, embellish, or suppress, any portion of the material in my possession. The incidents given were not in any sense isolated exceptions to the daily routine of Mr. Lincoln's life. My aim has been throughout these pages to portray the man as he was revealed to me, without any attempt at idealization.
In addition to my own reminiscences, I have woven into the book various personal incidents, published and unpublished, which bear intrinsic evidence of genuineness,--attaching in these instances, where it seemed necessary and proper, the sources of such contributions.
I am not one of those inclined to believe that Mr. Lincoln, in the closing months of his career, reached the full measure of his greatness. Man may not read the future: but it is my firm conviction, that, had he lived through his second term. he would have continued to grow, as he had grown, in the estimation and confidence of his countrymen; rising to a grander moral height with every emergency, careful always to weigh every argument opposed to his convictions, but, once mounted upon those convictions, grounded in righteousness, as immovable as one of the giant ranges of our own Rooky Mountains!
Aspiring in no sense to the dignity of a biography, this volume will fulfil its object if it helps to any better knowledge of one, who, apart from the reverence with which he ever will be regarded for his connection with the cause of human Freedom, was the best product and exemplar which the world has yet seen of American soil and institutions; the study of whose character, illustrating as it did the highest form of statesmanship, founded upon truth, justice, and solid integrity, combining the deepest wisdom with a child-like freshness and simplicity,--will be of perpetual interest and value.
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