Lincoln's anxiety regarding the effect at the North of these repeated reverses was not without sufficient cause. Aside from those who were positively opposed to the war, the loyal people were wearying of the useless slaughter, the unavailing struggles, of the gallant soldiers. The growing distrust of the capacity of their military leaders was also keenly felt. The feeling of that time is so well expressed in a stirring poem entitled "Wanted, a Man," written by Mr. E.C. Stedman, that it is given place here. It has an additional personal interest connected with President Lincoln in the fact that he was so impressed with the piece that he read it aloud to his assembled Cabinet.
Back from the trebly crimsoned field Terrible words are thunder-tost; Full of the wrath that will not yield, Full of revenge for battles lost! Hark to their echo, as it crost The Capital, making faces wan: End this murderous holocaust; Abraham Lincoln, give us a MAN!
Give us a man of God's own mould, Born to marshal his fellow-men; One whose fame is not bought and sold At the stroke of a politician's pen; Give us the man of thousands ten, Fit to do as well as to plan; Give us a rallying-cry, and then, Abraham Lincoln, give us a MAN!
No leader to shirk the boasting foe, And to march and countermarch our brave Till they fall like ghosts in the marshes low, And swamp-grass covers each nameless grave; Nor another, whose fatal banners wave Aye in Disaster's shameful van; Nor another, to bluster, and lie, and rave,— Abraham Lincoln, give us a MAN!
Hearts are mourning in the North, While the sister rivers seek the main, Red with our life-blood flowing forth— Who shall gather it up again? Though we march to the battle-plain Firmly as when the strife began, Shall all our offerings be in vain?— Abraham Lincoln, give us a MAN!
Is there never one in all the land, One on whose might the Cause may lean? Are all the common ones so grand, And all the titled ones so mean? What if your failure may have been In trying to make good bread from bran, From worthless metal a weapon keen?— Abraham Lincoln, find us a MAN!
O, we will follow him to the death, Where the foeman's fiercest columns are! O, we will use our latest breath, Cheering for every sacred star! His to marshal us high and far; Ours to battle, as patriots can When a Hero leads the Holy War!— Abraham Lincoln, give us a MAN!
The Battle-summer of 1863—A Turn of the Tide—Lee's Invasion of Pennsylvania—A Threatening Crisis—Change of Union Commanders—Meade succeeds Hooker—The Battle of Gettysburg—Lincoln's Anxiety during the Fight—The Retreat of Lee—Union Victories in the Southwest—The Capture of Vicksburg—Lincoln's Thanks to Grant—Returning Cheerfulness—Congratulations to the Country—Improved State of Peeling at the North—State Elections of 1863—The Administration Sustained—Dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg—Lincoln's Address—Scenes and Incidents at the Dedication—Meeting with Old John Burns—Edward Everett's Impressions of Lincoln.
Midsummer of 1863 brought a turn in the tide of military affairs. It came none too soon for the safety of the nation. The repeated reverses to the Union arms ending with the shocking disasters at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville—although slightly relieved by the costly success of Stone River—had seemed to throw the chances of war in favor of the South; and the Union cause was at the crisis of its fate. But now fortune smiled upon the North, and its lost hope and lost ground were regained at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. These great battles are justly regarded as marking the turning-point of the war. It was yet far from finished; there remained nearly two years of desperate fighting, with heroic struggles and terrible sacrifice of life, before the end should come. But from this time the character of the struggle seemed to change. The armies of the South fought, not less desperately, but more on the defensive; and their final overthrow was in all human probability chiefly a question of time.
Emboldened by his success at Chancellorsville in May, General Lee again assumed the offensive, and recrossed the Potomac river into Maryland. Late in June he invaded Pennsylvania, and occupied a position threatening Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. The situation was most critical. If Lee could once more beat the Army of the Potomac, as he had done so many times, these three great cities, and even New York, might be at his mercy. The feeling in Washington is reflected in entries made at the time in Mr. Welles's Diary. "Something of a panic pervades the city," says Mr. Welles. "Singular rumors reach us of Rebel advances into Maryland. It is said they have reached Hagerstown, and some of them have penetrated as far as Chambersburg in Pennsylvania.... The city is full of strange, wild rumors of Rebel raids in the vicinity and of trains seized in sight of the Capital. The War Department is wholly unprepared for an irruption here, and J.E.B. Stuart might have dashed into the city to-day [June 28] with impunity.... I have a panic telegraph from Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania, who is excitable and easily alarmed, entreating that guns and gunners may be sent from the Navy Yard at Philadelphia to Harrisburg without delay.... I went again, at a late hour, to the War Department, but could get no facts or intelligence from the Secretary. All was vague, opaque, thick darkness. I really think Stanton is no better posted than myself, and from what Stanton says am afraid Hooker does not comprehend Lee's intentions nor know how to counteract them. It looks to me as if Lee was putting forth his whole energy and force in one great and desperate struggle which shall be decisive."
Following Lee, the Army of the Potomac, under General Hooker, also recrossed the Potomac, and pursued the enemy by a somewhat parallel route, but keeping carefully between him and Washington. The occasion was one calling for the best resources of a great military commander; and General Hooker, realizing his unfitness for the responsibility, asked to be relieved of the command. Thus was thrown upon the President the hazardous necessity of changing commanders upon the very eve of a great battle. It was a terrible emergency. Even the stout-hearted Stanton was appalled. He afterward stated that when he received the despatch from Hooker, asking to be relieved, his heart sank within him, and he was more depressed than at any other moment of the war. "I could not say," said Mr. Stanton, "that any other officer knew General Hooker's plans, or the position even of the various divisions of the army. I sent for the President to come at once to the War Office. It was in the evening, but the President soon appeared. I handed him the despatch. As he read it his face became like lead, and I said, 'What shall be done?' He replied instantly, 'Accept his resignation.'"
Immediately an order was sent to Major-General George G. Meade, one of the most efficient of the corps commanders of the Army of the Potomac, appointing him to the chief command. Meade was a quiet, unassuming man, very unlike Hooker. Three days after assuming command, he led his army against the Southern host at Gettysburg, where, after a most bloody and memorable battle of three days' duration (July 1, 2, and 3, 1863), was won the first decisive victory in the history of the gallant Army of the Potomac. Lee retired, with disastrous losses, across the Potomac to Virginia; and Washington and the North breathed free again.
Senator Chandler of Michigan, speaking of the terrible strain on Lincoln during the progress of the battle of Gettysburg, said: "I shall never forget the painful anxiety of those few days when the fate of the nation seemed to hang in the balance; nor the restless solicitude of Mr. Lincoln, as he paced up and down the room, reading despatches, soliloquizing, and often stopping to trace the position of the contending armies on the map which hung on the wall; nor the relief we all felt when the fact was established that victory, though gained at such fearful cost, was indeed on the side of the Union."
Amidst the murk and gloom of those dark days in Washington, when the suspense was breathless and the heart of the nation responded in muffled beats to the dull booming of the cannon of Meade and Lee at Gettysburg, an episode occurred, with Lincoln as the central figure, which reveals perhaps more poignantly than any other in his whole career the depths of feeling in that tender and reverential soul. On Sunday evening, July 4,—the fourth day of that terrible battle, with nothing definite yet known of the result,—the President drove out in a carriage, in company with two daughters of Secretary Stanton, to the line of defenses near Arlington. It was toward sundown; and a brigade of troops were forming in position for an evening parade or review. The commander of the brigade, General Tannatt, recognizing the President and his party, rode up to the carriage and invited them to witness the parade. The President assented. His face was drawn and haggard in its expression of anxiety and sorrow. As it was Sunday evening, some of the regimental bands played familiar religious pieces. The President, hearing them, inquired of General Tannatt if any of his bands could play "Lead Kindly Light." Then in a low voice and with touching accents he repeated, as if to himself, the familiar lines—never more expressive or appropriate than now,—
Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead thou me on.
* * * * *
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene,—one step enough for me.
As the sweet strains of the familiar hymn floated on the evening air, Lincoln's sad face became sadder still, and tears were seen coursing down his cheeks. What emotions were his, who can tell, as he thought of that great battle-field not far away, its issues yet unknown, its ground still covered with dead and wounded soldiers whose heroic deeds—to use his noble words spoken a few months later on that historic field—"have consecrated it far above our power to add or detract."
General Tannatt, who knew Lincoln well and had spoken with him many times, never saw him again; and his view of that tragic, tear-wet face remains to him a vivid and precious memory.[H]
While the eyes of the nation were fastened upon the great drama being enacted near the capital, events scarcely less momentous were occurring in the Southwest. The campaign against Vicksburg, the great Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi river, had been in active progress, under the personal command of General Grant, for several months. The importance of this strategic point was fully understood by the enemy, and it was defended most stubbornly. At first Grant's plans proved unsuccessful; the cutting of canals and opening of bayous failed—as President Lincoln had expected and predicted. But these failures only served to develop the unsuspected energy of Grant's character and the extent of his military resources. He boldly changed his entire plan of operations, abandoned his line of communication, removed his army to a point below Vicksburg and attacked the city in the rear. With dogged persistence he pressed forward, gaining point by point, beating off General Johnston's forces on one side and driving Pemberton before him into Vicksburg; until finally, by the aid of Admiral Porter's gunboats on the Mississippi, he had entirely invested the city. Gradually and persistently his lines closed in, pushed forward by assault and siege; until Vicksburg accepted its doom, and on the 4th of July, 1863,—the day of Lee's retreat from Gettysburg,—the city and garrison surrendered to the victorious Grant.
Lincoln's exuberant joy over the capture of Vicksburg is revealed in an entry made at the time in Mr. Welles's Diary. "I was handed a despatch from Admiral Porter, communicating the fall of Vicksburg on the Fourth of July," says Mr. Welles. "I immediately returned to the Executive Mansion. The President was detailing certain points relative to Grant's movements on the map to Chase and two or three others, when I gave him the tidings. Putting down the map he rose at once, said he would drop these topics, and added, 'I myself will telegraph this news to General Meade.' He seized his hat, but suddenly stopped, his countenance beaming with joy; he caught my hand, and throwing his arm around me, exclaimed, 'What can we do for the Secretary of the Navy for this glorious intelligence? He is always giving us good news. I cannot, in words, tell you my joy over this result. It is great, Mr. Welles, it is great!' ... We walked the lawn together. 'This,' said he, 'will relieve Banks. It will inspire me.'"
The Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg caused great rejoicing at the North, and gave added zest to the celebration of the national patriotic holiday. President Lincoln, mindful of the "almost inestimable services," as he termed them, of General Grant, and as it was his wont to do in such circumstances, made haste to acknowledge his own and the country's indebtedness to the man who had accomplished a great deed. He addressed to the conqueror of Vicksburg the following letter:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D.C. July 13, 1863.
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 services 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 now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right and I was wrong.
Yours truly, A. LINCOLN.
An officer who was the first from Grant's army to reach Washington after the surrender of Vicksburg, has recorded the circumstances of his interview with the President. "Mr. Lincoln received me very cordially," says this officer, "and drawing a chair near to himself and motioning me to be seated said, 'Now I want to hear all about Vicksburg.' I gave him all the information I could, though he appeared to be remarkably well posted himself. He put to me a great many questions in detail touching the siege, the losses, the morale of the army, its sanitary condition, the hospital service, and General Grant. Said he: 'I guess I was right in standing by Grant, although there was great pressure made after Pittsburg Landing to have him removed. I thought I saw enough in Grant to convince me that he was one on whom the country could depend. That 'unconditional surrender' message to Buckner at Donelson suited me. It indicated the spirit of the man."
It is interesting to note that before the capture of Vicksburg the protracted campaign had occasioned no little dissatisfaction with General Grant; the President had been importuned to remove him, and had much formidable opposition to encounter in his determination to stand by him. Only a few days before the capitulation of the beleaguered city, Senator Wade of Ohio—"Bluff Ben Wade," as he was termed—called upon the President and urged Grant's dismissal; to which Lincoln good-naturedly replied, "Senator, that reminds me of a story." "Yes, yes," rejoined Wade petulantly, "that is the way it is with you, sir, all story—story! You are the father of every military blunder that has been made during the war. You are on your road to h—l, sir, with this Government, and you are not a mile off this minute." Lincoln calmly retorted, "Senator, that is just about the distance from here to the Capitol, is it not?" The exasperated Wade grabbed his hat and rushed angrily from the White House.
It is not pleasant to record that the cordial and generous congratulations to Grant for his achievements at Vicksburg were in marked contrast to the rather grudging recognition of Meade's much more important and hard-won victory at Gettysburg. In the latter case the despatches from Washington took the form not so much of acknowledgments of what had been done as of complaints at what had not been done. It is hard to believe that the President dictated, or even authorized, the ill-timed and peevish despatch sent to General Meade[I] by the inopportune Halleck, a few days after the battle of Gettysburg, in which the victor on that desperate field is officially informed that "the escape of Lee's army has created great dissatisfaction in the mind of the President, and it will require an active and energetic pursuit to remove the impression that it has not been sufficiently active before." To this extraordinary message Meade at once made a simple and manly rejoinder in which he said: "Having performed my duty conscientiously and to the best of my ability, the censure of the President, as conveyed in your despatch, is in my judgment so undeserved that I feel compelled most respectfully to ask to be immediately relieved from the command of this army." Halleck replied, rather ineptly, that his despatch had not been intended as a censure, but as a "stimulus," and was not regarded as a sufficient cause for Meade's request to be relieved. When one thinks of the ill-fortunes of the Army of the Potomac under previous commanders, and of the unlikelihood of finding a successor to Meade as capable as he had shown himself to be, one shudders at the chances of what might have happened had another change of leaders been forced upon that long-suffering and now victorious army. General Meade did not press his resignation after Halleck's conciliatory telegrams, and remained in immediate command of the Army of the Potomac until the close of the war—Grant's accession to the chief command of all the armies having marked the end of the well-meant but often ill-advised and troublesome interference with military affairs from Washington.
Mr. Isaac R. Pennypacker, in his Life of General Meade, speaks of Halleck and other prominent officials in Washington in these terms: "Possessing much of the skill of the lawyer and disputant, Halleck was without military ability. The Secretary of War, like many other men who exercise vast power, was not great enough to refrain from the use of his authority in matters where his knowledge and experience did not qualify him to form the soundest views. Acting with these military authorities were men like Wade and Chandler, whose patriotism was of the exuberant kind, whose judgment in military affairs was without value, but whose personal energy impelled them to have a controlling hand, if possible, in the conduct of the war."
Lincoln's dissatisfaction with General Meade after the battle of Gettysburg was due, as we now see, to his elation over the splendid victory for the Union, his intense desire for further and overwhelming successes, and his failure (a quite natural one) to realize that what might seem desirable and feasible viewed from Washington might look very different to the practical and experienced men actually on the ground and familiar as he could not be with all the factors in the situation.[J] "He thought," wrote General Halleck in an explanatory letter sent to Meade two weeks after his despatch of censure, "that Lee's defeat was so certain that he felt no little impatience at his unexpected escape." Among military authorities, such a retreat as that of Lee after Gettysburg is hardly regarded as an "escape." If it were, then great must be the fault of Lee as a general in allowing the defeated armies of Burnside and Hooker to "escape" after the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, where their repulse was much worse than was Lee's at Gettysburg. That Lincoln's first feelings of disappointment and dissatisfaction with General Meade were greatly modified with fuller knowledge of the actual situation after the battle of Gettysburg is shown by a remark made by him to Senator Cameron, referring to Meade: "Why should we censure a man who has done so much for his country because he did not do a little more?" And if any debt of recognition or of gratitude yet remained due from him, it was more than paid a few months later in the unsurpassed tribute at Gettysburg to "the brave men, living and dead," who gained the victory on that hallowed field.
The improved condition of public affairs, and the increasing cheerfulness of the President, after the victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, are exhibited in a letter written by him a few weeks later to friends at Springfield, Illinois, who had urgently invited him to attend "a mass-meeting of Unconditional Union men" at his old home. In this letter he took occasion to declare his sentiments on various questions paramount at the time. Among these was the subject of a compromise with the South, against which he argued with great force and feeling. Again, he defended the Emancipation Proclamation, a measure to which many Union men were still unreconciled. He referred also to the arming of the negroes as a just and wise expedient; finally concluding with these expressive and felicitous words:
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 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 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. Still, let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy final triumph. Let us be quite sober. Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in His own good time, will give us the rightful result.
In a public proclamation, issued October 3, the President gives more formal expression to his satisfaction and gratitude, and calls upon the loyal people of the Union to unite in a day of thanksgiving for the improved prospects of the country.
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to invite and provoke the aggressions of foreign states, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict, while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. The needful diversion of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense has not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship. The axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect a continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and voice, by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and prayer to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
The brightening prospects of the Union cause quickly produced a better state of feeling at the North. In the fall elections of 1863, every State except New Jersey gave solid majorities on the Republican side, thus strengthening the administration and giving the President welcome assurances of popular approval. He had awaited with special anxiety the returns from Ohio, where the contest was fraught with peculiar significance. The Democrats had chosen for their candidate the notorious peace-at-any-price Vallandigham, against whom the Republicans had placed John Brough of Cleveland. On the night of the election, about ten o'clock, a message clicked on the wires in the telegraph office of the latter city, saying, "Where is John Brough? A. Lincoln." Brough was at hand, and directly the electric voice inquired, "Brough, about what is your majority now?" Brough replied, "Over 30,000." Lincoln requested Brough to remain at the office during the night. A little past midnight the question came again from Lincoln, "Brough, what is your majority by this time?" Brough replied, "Over 50,000." And the question was thus repeated and answered several times, with rapidly increasing majorities, till five o'clock in the morning, when the question came again, "Brough, what is your majority now?" The latter was able to respond, "Over 100,000." As soon as the words could be flashed back over the wire, there came: "Glory to God in the highest. Ohio has saved the Nation. A. Lincoln."
The day after the election in Ohio (October 14, 1863) Lincoln said to Secretary Welles that he had felt more anxiety in regard to the results than he had in 1860 when he was chosen President. He could not have believed four years ago, he said, that one genuine American would or could be induced to vote for such a man as Vallandigham. Yet he had been made the candidate of a large party, and received a vote that is a discredit to the country. Mr. Welles adds: "The President showed a good deal of emotion as he dwelt on this subject."
After the battle of Gettysburg, a portion of the ground on which the engagement was fought was purchased by the State of Pennsylvania for a burial-place for the Union soldiers who were slain in that bloody encounter. The tract included seventeen and a half acres adjoining the town cemetery. It was planned to consecrate the ground with imposing ceremonies, in which the President, accompanied by his Cabinet and a large body of the military, was invited to assist. The day appointed was the 19th of November; and the chief orator selected was Massachusetts' eloquent son, Hon. Edward Everett. Following him it was expected that the President would add some testimonials in honor of the dead.
Lincoln and Everett were representatives of two contrasting phases of American civilization: the one, an outgrowth of the rough pioneer life of the West; the other, the product of the highest culture of the East. They had met for the first time on this memorable day. Everett's oration was a finished literary production. Smooth, euphonious, and elegant, it was delivered with the silvery tones and the graceful gestures of a trained and consummate speaker. When he had finished, and the applause that greeted him had died away, the multitude called vociferously for an address from Lincoln. With an unconscious air, the President came forward at the call, put his spectacles on his nose, and read, in a quiet voice which gradually warmed with feeling, while his careworn face became radiant with the light of genuine emotion, the following brief address:
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 of 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 carried on. 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 earth.
The simple and sublime words of this short address shook the hearts of the listeners, and before the first sentence was ended they were under the spell of a mighty magician. They stood hushed, awed, and melted, as the speaker enforced the solemn lesson of the hour, and brought home to them, in plain unvarnished terms, the duty which remained for them to do—to finish the work which the dead around them had given their lives to carry on. It was one of the briefest of the many speeches with which Lincoln had swayed the impulses and opinions of crowds of his fellow-men, but it is the one which will be remembered above all others as hallowed by the truest and loftiest inspiration. As the final sentence ended, amid the tears and sobs and cheers of the excited throng, the President turned to Mr. Everett, and, grasping his hand, exclaimed with sincerity, "I congratulate you on your success." Mr. Everett responded in the fervor of his emotion, "Ah, Mr. President, how gladly would I exchange all my hundred pages to have been the author of your twenty lines!"
Of all Lincoln's public utterances, this is unquestionably the most remarkable. The oration, brief and unpretending as it is, will remain a classic of the English language. "The Westminster Review," one of the foremost of the great English quarterlies, said of it: "It has but one equal, in that pronounced upon those who fell in the first year of the Peloponnesian War; and in one respect it is superior to that great speech. It is not only more natural, fuller of feeling, more touching and pathetic, but we know with absolute certainty that it was really delivered. Nature here takes precedence of art—even though it be the art of Thucydides."
"An illustration of the difference between oratory and inspiration" is Mr. John Bigelow's happy characterization of the Gettysburg address. "It was," he adds, "one of the most momentous incidents in the history of the Civil War. It may be doubted whether anything had then, or has since, been said of that national strife conceived upon a higher and wiser spiritual plane.... It is perhaps, on the whole, the most enduring bit of eloquence that has ever been uttered on this continent; and yet one finds in it none of the tricks of the forum or the stage, nor any trace of the learning of the scholar, nor the need of it."
Major Harry T. Lee, who was himself a participant in the battle of Gettysburg and occupied a seat on the platform at the dedication, says that the people listened with marked attention through the two hours of Everett's noble and scholarly oration; but that when Lincoln came forward, and in a voice burdened with emotion uttered his simple and touching eulogy on "the brave men, living and dead, who struggled here," there was scarcely a dry eye in the whole vast audience.
Mr. John Russell Young, afterwards U.S. Minister to China, was present at the Gettysburg dedication, and says: "I sat behind Mr. Lincoln while Mr. Everett delivered his oration. I remember the great orator had a way of raising and dropping his handkerchief as he spoke. He spoke for two hours, and was very impressive, with his white hair and venerable figure. He was a great orator, but it was like a bit of Greek sculpture—beautiful, but cold as ice. It was perfect art, but without feeling. The art and beauty of it captured your imagination and judgment. Mr. Everett went over the campaign with resonant, clear, splendid rhetoric. There was not a word or a sentence or a thought that could be corrected. You felt that every gesture had been carefully studied out beforehand. It was like a great actor playing a great part.... Mr. Lincoln rose, walked to the edge of the platform, took out his glasses, and put them on. He was awkward. He bowed to the assemblage in his homely manner, and took out of his coat pocket a page of foolscap. In front of Mr. Lincoln was a photographer with his camera, endeavoring to take a picture of the scene. We all supposed that Mr. Lincoln would make rather a long speech—a half-hour at least. He took the single sheet of foolscap, held it almost to his nose, and in his high tenor voice, without the least attempt at effect, delivered that most extraordinary address which belongs to the classics of literature. The photographer was bustling about, preparing to take the President's picture while he was speaking, but Mr. Lincoln finished before the photographer was ready."
It is stated that when President Lincoln reached the town of Gettysburg, on his way to attend the exercises at the cemetery, he inquired for "Old John Burns," the hero of the battle of Gettysburg, who left his farm and fought with the Union soldiers upon that bloody field. The veteran was sent for; and on his arrival the President showed him marked attention, taking him by the arm and walking with him in the procession through the streets to the cemetery.
Edward Everett, who was associated with Lincoln during these two or three days, says of the impression the President made on him: "I recognized in the President a full measure of the qualities which entitle him to the personal respect of the people. On the only social occasion on which I ever had the honor to be in his company, viz., the Commemoration at Gettysburg, he sat at the table of my friend David Willis, by the side of several distinguished persons, foreigners and Americans; and in gentlemanly appearance, manners, and conversation, he was the peer of any man at the table."
Lincoln and Grant—Their Personal Relations—Grant's Successes at Chattanooga—Appointed Lieutenant-general—Grant's First Visit to Washington—His Meeting with Lincoln—Lincoln's First Impressions of Grant—The First "General" Lincoln Had Found—"That Presidential Grub"—True Version of the Whiskey Anecdote—Lincoln Tells Grant the Story of Sykes's Dog—"We'd Better Let Mr. Grant Have his Own Way"—Grant's Estimate of Lincoln.
From the hour of Grant's triumph at Vicksburg to the close of the war, Lincoln never withdrew his confidence from the quiet, persistent, unpretending man who led our armies slowly but surely along the path of victory. As soon as the campaign at Vicksburg was over, Grant's sphere of operations was enlarged by his appointment to the command of the military division of the Mississippi. In November following he fought the famous battles of Chattanooga, including Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge; and, aided by his efficient corps commanders, Sherman, Thomas, and Hooker, gained a succession of brilliant victories for the Union cause. The wisdom of Grant's policy of concentration and "fighting it out" had now become apparent.
President Lincoln had watched closely the progress of these events, and had come to recognize in Grant the master spirit of the war, on the Northern side. Accordingly he determined to give him general command of all the Union armies. In December, 1863, a bill was introduced in the Senate by Hon. E.B. Washburne, of Illinois, and passed both houses of Congress, creating the rank of Lieutenant-General in the army. President Lincoln approved the act, and immediately nominated Grant for the position. The nomination was confirmed; and on the 17th of March, 1864, Grant issued his first order as Lieutenant-General, assuming command of the armies of the United States, and announcing that his headquarters would be in the field and until further orders with the Army of the Potomac. Of this army he shrewdly remarked that it seemed to him it "had never fought its battles through." He proposed, first of all, to teach that army "not to be afraid of Lee." "I had known him personally," said Grant, "and knew that he was mortal." With characteristic energy he formed a simple but comprehensive plan of operations both East and West; sending Sherman on his great march to Atlanta and the sea, while he, with the Army of the Potomac, pushed straight for Richmond. These operations were vigorously urged, and when they were ended the war was ended. It was but little more than a year from the date of Grant's commission as Lieutenant-General till he received Lee's surrender at Appomattox.
Immediately upon Grant's appointment as Lieutenant-General, he was summoned to Washington. It was his first visit to the capital since the war began, and he was a stranger to nearly everyone from the President down. He arrived in the city on the 8th of March (1864), taking quarters at Willard's Hotel, where, when he went in to dinner, none knew "the quiet, rather stumpy-looking man, who came in leading a little boy—the boy who had ridden by his father's side through all the campaign of Vicksburg." But soon it was whispered about who was in the room, and there was a loud call for three cheers for Ulysses S. Grant, which were given with a will. In the evening General Grant attended a reception at the White House, passing in with the throng alone and unannounced. The quick eye of the President discovered the identity of the modest soldier, and he was most heartily welcomed. "As soon as it was known that he was present, the pressure of the crowd to see the hero of Vicksburg was so great that he was forced to shelter himself behind a sofa. So irrepressible was the desire to see him that Secretary Seward finally induced him to mount a sofa, that this curiosity might be gratified. When parting from the President, he said, 'This has been rather the warmest campaign I have witnessed during the war.'" A graphic account of this interesting event is given by Secretary Welles, who records in his Diary (March 9, 1864): "Went last evening to the Presidential reception. Quite a gathering; very many that are not usually seen at receptions were attracted thither, I presume, from the fact that General Grant was expected to be there. He came about half-past nine. I was near the centre of the reception-room, when a stir and buzz attracted attention, and it was whispered that General Grant had arrived. The room was not full, the crowd having passed through to the East Room. I saw some men in uniform standing at the entrance, and one of them, a short, brown, dark-haired man, was talking with the President. There was hesitation, a degree of awkwardness, in the General. Soon word was passed around—'Mr. Seward, General Grant is here,' and Seward, who was just behind me, hurried and took the General by the hand and led him to Mrs. Lincoln, near whom I was standing. The crowd gathered around the circle rapidly, and it being intimated that it would be necessary the throng should pass on, Seward took the General's arm and went with him to the East Room. There was clapping of hands in the next room as he passed through, and all in the East Room joined in it as he entered."
The next day at noon the General waited on the President to receive his commission. The interview took place in the Cabinet room. There were present, besides the members of the Cabinet, General Halleck, a member of Congress, two of General Grant's staff-officers, his eldest son, Frederick D. Grant, and the President's private secretary. The ceremony was simple, the President saying, as he proffered the papers: "The nation's appreciation of what you have done, and its reliance upon you for what remains to be done in the existing great struggle, are now presented with this commission, constituting you Lieutenant-General in the Army of the United States. With this high honor devolves upon you also a corresponding responsibility. As the country herein trusts you, so, under God, it will sustain you. I scarcely need to add that with what I here speak for the nation goes my own hearty personal concurrence." The General responded briefly, promising to "accept the commission with gratitude for the high honor conferred. With the aid of the noble armies that have fought on so many fields for our common country, it will be my earnest endeavor not to disappoint your expectations. I feel the full weight of the responsibilities now devolving on me, and I know that if they are met it will be due to those armies, and above all to the favor of that Providence which leads both nations and men."
Before assuming personal command of the Army of the Potomac, as he had determined to do, General Grant found it necessary to return once more to the West. In his parting interview with Lincoln, he was urged to remain to dinner the next day and meet a brilliant party whom the lady of the White House had invited to do him special honor. The General answered, apologetically: "Mrs. Lincoln must excuse me. I must be in Tennessee at a given time." "But we can't excuse you," said the President. "Mrs. Lincoln's dinner without you would be Hamlet with Hamlet left out." "I appreciate the honor Mrs. Lincoln would do me," said the General, "but time is very important now. I ought to be at the front, and a dinner to me means a million dollars a day lost to the country." Lincoln was pleased with this answer, and said cheerfully, "Well, we'll have the dinner without you."
After Lincoln's first meeting with General Grant he was asked regarding his personal impressions of the new commander. He replied, "Well, I hardly know what to think of him. He's the quietest little fellow you ever saw. He makes the least fuss of any man I ever knew. I believe on several occasions he has been in this room a minute or so before I knew he was here. It's about so all around. The only evidence you have that he's in any particular place is that he makes things move." To a subsequent inquiry as to his estimate of Grant's military capacities, Lincoln responded, with emphasis: "Grant is the first General I've had. He's a General." "How do you mean, Mr. Lincoln?" his visitor asked. "Well, I'll tell you what I mean," replied Lincoln. "You know how it's been with all the rest. As soon as I put a man in command of the army, he'd come to me with the plan of a campaign, and about as much as to say: 'Now I don't believe I can do it, but if you say so I'll try it on,' and so put the responsibility of success or failure on me. They all wanted me to be the General. Now, it isn't so with Grant. He hasn't told me what his plans are. I don't know and I don't want to know. I am glad to find a man who can go ahead without me. When any of the rest set out on a campaign they'd look over matters and pick out some one thing they were short of and they knew I couldn't give them, and tell me they couldn't hope to win unless they had it—and it was most generally cavalry. Now when Grant took hold I was waiting to see what his pet impossibility would be, and I reckoned it would be cavalry, of course, for we hadn't horses enough to mount what men we had. There were fifteen thousand men, or thereabouts, up near Harper's Ferry, and no horses to put them on. Well, the other day Grant sent to me about these very men, just as I expected; but what he wanted to know was whether he could make infantry of 'em or disband 'em. He doesn't ask impossibilities of me, and he's the first General I've had that didn't." On another occasion Lincoln said of Grant: "The great thing about him is his cool persistency of purpose. He is not easily excited, and he has the grip of a bulldog. When he once gets his teeth in, nothing can shake him off."
The President's satisfaction with the new commander was speedily communicated to him in a characteristically frank manner, in a letter dated April 30, 1864.
Not expecting to see you 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 restraints or constraints upon you. While I am very anxious that any great disaster or capture of our men in great numbers shall be avoided, I know that these points are less likely to escape your attention than they would be mine. If there be anything wanting which is in 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, A. LINCOLN.
General Grant himself wrote, on this point: "In my first interview with Mr. Lincoln alone, he stated to me that he had never professed to be a military man, or to know how campaigns should be conducted, and never wanted to interfere in them; but that procrastination on the part of commanders, and the pressure of the people at the North and Congress, which was always with him, forced him into issuing his series of 'Military Orders'—one, two, three, etc. He did not know but they were all wrong, and did know that some of them were. All he wanted or had ever wanted was someone who would take the responsibility and act, and call on him for all the assistance needed, pledging himself to use all the power of the government in rendering such assistance.... The President told me he did not want to know what I proposed to do. But he submitted a plan of campaign of his own which he wanted me to hear and then do as I pleased about. He brought out a map of Virginia on which he had evidently marked every position occupied by the Federal and Confederate armies up to that time. He pointed out on the map two streams which empty into the Potomac, and suggested that the army might be moved on boats and landed between the mouths of these streams. We would then have the Potomac to bring our supplies, and the tributaries would protect our flanks while we moved out. I listened respectfully, but did not suggest that the same streams would protect Lee's flanks while he was shutting us up."
General Horace Porter, for some time Grant's chief of staff, says: "The nearest Mr. Lincoln ever came to giving General Grant an order for the movement of troops was during Early's raid upon Washington. On July 10, 1864, he telegraphed a long despatch from Washington, which contained the following language: 'What I think is that you should provide to retain your hold where you are, certainly, and bring the rest with you personally, and make a vigorous effort to defeat the enemy's force in this vicinity. I think there is really a fair chance to do this, if the movement is prompt. This is what I think—given upon your suggestion,—and is not an order.' Grant replied that on reflection he thought it would have a bad effect for him to leave City Point, then his headquarters, in front of Richmond and Petersburg; and the President was satisfied with the dispositions which Grant made for the repulse of Early without taking command against him in person."
A curious incident revealing the intense interest with which Lincoln watched the career of Grant is related by Mr. J. Russell Jones, an old and trusted friend of the President, who joined the army at Vicksburg in time to witness its final triumph. Soon after Mr. Jones's return to Chicago, the President summoned him to Washington. With eager haste, after the first salutations were over, Lincoln declared the object for which he had secured the interview: "'I have sent for you, Mr. Jones, to know if that man Grant wants to be President.' Mr. Jones, although somewhat astonished at the question and the circumstances under which it was asked, replied at once, 'No, Mr. President.' 'Are you sure?' queried the latter. 'Yes,' said Mr. Jones, 'perfectly sure. I have just come from Vicksburg. I have seen General Grant frequently, and talked fully and freely with him about that and every other question; and I know he has no political aspirations whatever, and certainly none for the Presidency. His only desire is to see you re-elected and to do what he can under your orders to put down the rebellion and restore peace to the country.' 'Ah, Mr. Jones,' said Lincoln, 'you have lifted a great weight off my mind, and done me an immense amount of good; for I tell you, my friend, no man knows how deeply that Presidential grub gnaws till he has had it himself.'" We cannot believe that Lincoln cherished any feeling of jealousy of the rising commander, or desired to interfere with whatever political ambition he might nourish. It was rather his desire to be assured of the single-hearted purpose of a military leader whom he had trusted and to whom he wished to confide still more important services in the conduct of the war.
It may be remembered that early in the war an anecdote went the rounds of the press to the effect that, in reply to a complaint that Grant had been guilty of drunkenness in the campaigns in the West, Lincoln remarked that he would "like to find out what kind of liquor Grant drank," so that he might "send some of it to the other Generals." The true version of that characteristic anecdote is this, as given by the late Judge T. Lyle Dickey, who was a Judge of the Illinois Supreme Court at the time of his death, and at the time of Grant's famous Vicksburg campaign was on the General's staff as chief of cavalry. Judge (then Colonel) Dickey had been sent to Washington with private despatches for the President and the Secretary of War. Lincoln and Dickey had been intimate friends for years, and during the latter's visit to the former on that occasion, Dickey remarked, "I hear that some one has been trying to poison you against Grant by reporting that he gets drunk. I wish to assure you, Mr. President, that there is not a scintilla of truth in the report." "Oh, Colonel," replied the President, "we get all sorts of reports here, but I'll say this to you: that if those accusing General Grant of getting drunk will tell me where he gets his whiskey, I will get a lot of it and send it around to some of the other Generals, who are badly in need of something of the kind."
After Lincoln and General Grant had become personally intimate, they had many enjoyable conversations and exchanges of anecdotes. Lincoln especially enjoyed telling the General of the various persons who had come to him with complaints and criticisms about the Vicksburg campaign. "After the place had actually surrendered," said the President, "I thought it was about time to shut down on this sort of thing. So one day, when a delegation came to see me, and had spent half an hour trying to show me the fatal mistake you had made in paroling Pemberton's army, and insisting that the rebels would violate their paroles and in less than a month confront you again in the ranks and have to be whipped all over again, I thought I could get rid of them best by telling them a story about Sykes's dog. 'Have you ever heard about Sykes's yellow dog?' said I to the spokesman of the delegation. He said he hadn't. 'Well, I must tell you about him,' said I. 'Sykes had a yellow dog he set great store by, but there were a lot of small boys around the village, and that's always a bad thing for dogs, you know. These boys didn't share Sykes's views, and they were not disposed to let the dog have a fair show. Even Sykes had to admit that the dog was getting unpopular; in fact, it was soon seen that a prejudice was growing up against that dog that threatened to wreck all his future prospects in life. The boys, after meditating how they could get the best of him, finally fixed up a cartridge with a long fuse, put the cartridge in a piece of meat, dropped the meat in the road in front of Sykes's door, and then perched themselves on a fence a good distance off with the end of the fuse in their hands. Then they whistled for the dog. When he came out he scented the bait, and bolted the meat, cartridge and all. The boys touched off the fuse with a cigar, and in about a second a report came from that dog that sounded like a small clap of thunder. Sykes came bouncing out of the house, and yelled: "What's up! Anything busted?" There was no reply, except a snicker from the small boys roosting on the fence; but as Sykes looked up he saw the whole air filled with pieces of yellow dog. He picked up the biggest piece he could find—a portion of the back, with a part of the tail still hanging to it, and, after turning it around and looking it all over, he said, "Well, I guess he'll never be much account again—as a dog." And I guess Pemberton's forces will never be much account again—as an army.' The delegation began looking around for their hats before I had quite got to the end of the story, and I was never bothered any more about superseding the commander of the Army of the Tennessee."
When General Grant was ready to begin active operations with the Army of the Potomac, he sent forward all available men from Washington. Secretary Stanton, anxious about the safety of the city, said to Grant one day: "General, I suppose you have left us enough men to strongly garrison the forts?" "No, I can't do that," was Grant's quiet answer. "Why not? Why not?" repeated the Secretary nervously. "Because I have already sent the men to the front." Said the Secretary, still more nervously: "That won't do. It's contrary to my plans. I cannot allow it. I will order the men back." To this Grant returned with quiet determination: "I shall need the men there, and you cannot order them back." "Why not? Why not?" cried the Secretary. "I believe that I rank the Secretary in this matter," remarked Grant. "Very well, we will see the President about that," responded the Secretary sharply. "I will have to take you to the President." "That is right. The President ranks us both." So they went to the President; and the Secretary, turning to General Grant, said, "Now, General, state your case." But the General calmly replied, "I have no case to state. I am satisfied as it is." This threw the burden of statement on Secretary Stanton, and was excellent strategy. Meanwhile, General Grant had the men. When the Secretary had concluded, Lincoln crossed his legs, rested his elbow on his knee, and said in his quaint way and with a twinkle in his eye: "Now, Mr. Secretary, you know we have been trying to manage this army for nearly three years, and you know we haven't done much with it. We sent over the mountains and brought Mr. Grant, as Mrs. Grant calls him, to manage it for us; and now I guess we'd better let Mr. Grant have his own way." And Mr. Grant had it.
The favorable opinion which Lincoln held of Grant was strongly reciprocated. A short time before the former's death, Grant said: "I regard Lincoln as one of the greatest of men. He is unquestionably the greatest man I have ever encountered. The more I see of him and exchange views with him, the more he impresses me. I admire his courage, and respect the firmness he always displays. Many think from the gentleness of his character that he has a yielding nature; but while he has the courage to change his mind when convinced that he is wrong, he has all the tenacity of purpose which could be desired in a great statesman. His quickness of perception often astonishes me. Long before the statement of a complicated question is finished, his mind will grasp the main points, and he will seem to comprehend the whole subject better than the person who is stating it. He will take rank in history alongside of Washington."
Lincoln's Second Presidential Term—His Attitude toward it—Rival Candidates for the Nomination—Chase's Achillean Wrath—Harmony Restored—The Baltimore Convention—Decision "not to Swap Horses while Crossing a Stream"—The Summer of 1864—Washington again Threatened—Lincoln under Fire—Unpopular Measures—The President's Perplexities and Trials—The Famous Letter "To Whom It May Concern"—Little Expectation of Re-election—Dangers of Assassination—"A Thrilling Experience"—Lincoln's Forced Serenity—"The Saddest Man in the World"—A Break in the Clouds—Lincoln Vindicated by Re-election—Cheered and Reassured—More Trouble with Chase—Lincoln's Final Disposal of him—The President's Fourth Annual Message—His Position toward the Rebellion and Slavery Reaffirmed—Colored Folks' Reception at the White House—Passage of the Amendment Prohibiting Slavery—Lincoln and the Southern Peace Commissioners—The Meeting in Hampton Roads—Lincoln's Impression of A H. Stephens—The Second Inauguration—Second Inaugural Address—"With Malice toward None, with Charity for All"—An Auspicious Omen.
The year 1864 witnessed another Presidential election, and one which was attended by the most novel and extraordinary circumstances. It was held while a considerable portion of the people were engaged in armed rebellion against the authority of the National Government; and it was not participated in by the voters of several entire States. Aside from these unique features, it marked a most critical epoch in the history of the country, and in that of Abraham Lincoln as well. The policy and acts of the administration, even the question of the further prosecution of the war, were to be submitted to the sovereign tribunal of the people; and with their verdict would be recorded also the popular measure of approval or disapproval of President Lincoln. Those who knew him best during his first official term pronounce him singularly free from plans and calculations regarding his own political future. He was too absorbed in public cares and duties, too nearly crushed by the great burdens resting upon him, to give thought or attention to questions of personal ambition. It had never been his aim, during his Presidential life, to look far ahead. He was content to deal wisely and soberly with important questions as they arose from day to day and hour to hour; to adapt himself and his actions to the exigencies of the present, and in that way to earn security for the future. He himself said, using a forcible and apt illustration borrowed from his early life: "The pilots on our Western rivers steer from point to point, as they call it—setting the course of the boat no farther than they can see; and that is all I propose to do in the great problems that are set before me."
Such a policy as that outlined by Lincoln, embraced in his homely and characteristic phrase of "pegging away," caused him to be greatly misunderstood and even distrusted in some quarters. As the time for the new election drew near, there was very pronounced dissatisfaction with him, particularly in New England. It was said of him, among other things, that he "lacked the essential qualities of a leader." Mr. Henry Greenleaf Pearson, the biographer of Governor Andrew of Massachusetts, illuminates this point in a few instructive sentences. "To comprehend this objection, which to us seems so astonishingly wide of the mark," says Mr. Pearson, "we must realize that whenever a New Englander of that generation uttered the word 'leader' his mind's eye was filled with the image of Daniel Webster. Even those who called the fallen statesman 'Ichabod' could not forget his commanding presence, his lofty tone about affairs of state, his sonorous professions of an ideal, his whole ex cathedra attitude. All these characteristics supplied the aristocratic connotation of the word 'leader.' Of the broad democratic meaning of the term, the world had as yet received no demonstration. That Lincoln was in very truth the 'new birth of a new soil,' Lowell, with the advantage of literary detachment, was one of the first to discover and proclaim, both in his political essays and in the splendid stanzas of the 'Commemoration Ode.'"
While Lincoln seemingly gave little heed to the question of a second Presidential term, it must not be inferred that he was indifferent regarding it. His nature was one of those strong ones which, though desiring approbation, are yet able to live without it. His whole life had been a schooling in self-reliance and independence, and the last three years especially had rendered him an adept in that stern philosophy. But he was thoroughly human, and deep down in his nature was a craving for human sympathy and support. Knowing that he had done his best and was entitled to the full approval of his countrymen, he no doubt felt that it would be a pleasant thing to receive that approval by being called to serve them for another term. To one friend he remarked, using his old figure of "the people's attorney," "If the people think I have managed their case for them well enough to trust me to carry it up to the next term, I am sure I shall be glad to take it." He evidently dreaded the rebuke that would be implied in a failure to be renominated; yet it seemed unbecoming to him, in the critical condition of the country, to make any personal effort to that end. To these considerations were added his extreme weariness and longing for release from his oppressive burdens. He was also, as Mr. Welles records in his Diary, "greatly importuned and pressed by cunning intrigues."
From these various complications, Lincoln's embarrassment and perplexity as the time for holding the Republican Convention drew near were extreme. A journalistic friend (Mr. J.M. Winchell), who had a lengthy conversation with him on the subject, gives what is no doubt a correct idea of his state of mind at that period. "Mr. Lincoln received me," says Mr. Winchell, "kindly and courteously; but his manner was quite changed. It was not now the country about which his anxiety prevailed, but himself. There was an embarrassment about him which he could not quite conceal. I thought it proper to state in the outset that I wished simply to know whatever he was free to tell me in regard to his own willingness or unwillingness to accept a renomination. The reply was a monologue of an hour's duration, and one that wholly absorbed me, as it seemed to absorb himself. He remained seated nearly all the time. He was restless, often changing position, and occasionally, in some intense moment, wheeling his body around in his chair and throwing a leg over the arm. This was the only grotesque thing I recollect about him; his voice and manner were very earnest, and he uttered no jokes and told no anecdotes. He began by saying that as yet he was not a candidate for renomination. He distinctly denied that he was a party to any effort to that end, notwithstanding I knew that there were movements in his favor in all parts of the Northern States. These movements were, of course, without his prompting, as he positively assured me that with one or two exceptions he had scarcely conversed on the subject with his most intimate friends. He was not quite sure whether he desired a renomination. Such had been the responsibility of the office—so oppressive had he found its cares, so terrible its perplexities—that he felt as though the moment when he could relinquish the burden and retire to private life would be the sweetest he could possibly experience. But, he said, he would not deny that a re-election would also have its gratification to his feelings. He did not seek it, nor would he do so; he did not desire it for any ambitious or selfish purpose; but after the crisis the country was passing through under his Presidency, and the efforts he had made conscientiously to discharge the duties imposed upon him, it would be a very sweet satisfaction to him to know that he had secured the approval of his fellow citizens and earned the highest testimonial of confidence they could bestow. This was the gist of the hour's monologue; and I believe he spoke sincerely. His voice, his manner, gave his modest and sensible words a power of conviction. He seldom looked me in the face while he was talking; he seemed almost to be gazing into the future. I am sure it was not a pleasant thing for him to seem to be speaking in his own behalf. For himself, he affirmed that he should make no promises of office to anyone as an inducement for support. If nominated and elected, he should be grateful to his friends; but the interests of the country must always be first considered."
The principal candidates talked of as successors to Lincoln were Secretary Chase, General Fremont, and General Grant. Of the latter, Lincoln said, with characteristic frankness and generosity: "If he could be more useful as President in putting down the rebellion, I would be content. He is pledged to our policy of emancipation and the employment of negro soldiers; and if this policy is carried out, it will not make much difference who is President." But General Grant's good sense prevailed over his injudicious advisers, and he promptly refused to allow his name to be presented to the convention.
The most formidable candidate for the Republican nomination was Secretary Chase. The relations between him and the President had not latterly been very harmonious; and the breach was greatly widened by a bitter personal assault on Mr. Chase by General F.P. Blair, a newly elected Congressman from Missouri, made on the floor of the House, about the middle of April, under circumstances which led Mr. Chase to believe that the President inspired, or at least approved, the attack. Mr. Chase was very angry, and an open rupture between his friends and those of the President was narrowly averted. Mr. Riddle, Congressman from Mr. Chase's State (Ohio), relates that on the evening after General Blair's offensive speech he was to accompany Mr. Chase on a visit to Baltimore. "I was shown," says Mr. Riddle, "to the Secretary's private car, where I found him alone and in a frenzy of rage. A copy of Blair's speech had been shown him at the station, and I was the sole witness of his Achillean wrath. He threatened to leave the train at once and send the President his resignation; but was persuaded to go on to Baltimore. He wished to forward his resignation from there, but concluded to withhold it till his return to Washington the next day. At Baltimore," continues Mr. Riddle, "I excused myself, and took the return train for Washington. I did not overestimate the danger to the Union cause. It would be a fatal error to defeat Mr. Lincoln at the Baltimore Convention; yet how could he succeed, with the angry resignation of Mr. Chase, and the defection of his friends—the powerful and aggressive radicals? Reaching Washington, I went to the White House direct. I knew the President could not have been a party to Blair's assault, and I wanted his personal assurances to communicate to Mr. Chase at the earliest moment. I was accompanied by Judge Spaulding, an eminent member of the House, fully sharing Mr. Chase's confidence, and somewhat cool toward the President. We found Mr. Lincoln drawn up behind his table, with papers before him, quite grim, evidently prepared for the battle which he supposed awaited him. Without taking a seat, hat in hand, I stated frankly, not without emotion, the condition of affairs,—the public danger, my entire confidence in him, my sole purpose there, the reason of Judge Spaulding's presence, and that we were there in no way as representatives of Mr. Chase. Mr. Lincoln was visibly affected. The tones of confidence, sympathy, personal regard, were strangers to him at that time. Softening, almost melting, he came round to us, shook our hands again and again, returned to his place, and standing there, took up and opened out, from their remote origin, the whole web of matters connected with the present complication. He spoke an hour—calm, clear, direct, simple. He reprehended Blair severely, and stated that he had no knowledge of his speech until after Blair left Washington. We were permitted to communicate this to Mr. Chase. He was satisfied with the President's explanation, and at the Baltimore Convention my large acquaintance enabled me to open the way for Governor Dennison of Ohio to become its presiding officer. All recognized the good effect of the organization of that body by the friends of Mr. Chase."
The National Republican Convention which met at Baltimore on the 8th of June adopted resolutions heartily approving the course of the administration and especially the policy of emancipation, and completed its good work by nominating Abraham Lincoln as its candidate for President for another term. Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, was nominated for Vice-President. That Lincoln was gratified at this proof of confidence and esteem there can be no doubt. In his acceptance of the nomination, he said, with the most delicate modesty: "I view this call to a second term as in no wise more flattering to myself than as an expression of the public judgment that I may better finish a difficult work than could one less severely schooled to the task." And with characteristic humor, he thanked a visiting delegation for their good opinion of him, saying, "I have not permitted myself to conclude that I am the best man in the country; but I am reminded of the old Dutch farmer who remarked to a companion that it was not best to swap horses while crossing a stream."
In July, 1864, great excitement and alarm were occasioned in Washington by a body of Confederate cavalry under General Early, who actually attacked the fortifications of the city, cut off its railroad communication with the North, and ravaged the country about with fire and sword. For several days skirmishing was going on between the raiders and the troops in our fortifications. The fact that the President himself was under fire from the enemy on this occasion gave the episode a decided thrill of realism. He, with other government officials—largely, no doubt, from motives of curiosity—visited the scene of the disturbance and witnessed the miniature but sometimes spirited engagements. Among these visitors was Secretary Welles, who thus records his experiences (Diary, July 12, 1864): "Rode out today to Fort Stevens. Looking out over the valley below, where the continual popping of pickets was going on, I saw a line of our men lying close near the bottom of the valley. Senator Wade came up beside me. We went into the Fort, where we found the President, who was sitting in the shade, his back against the parapet toward the enemy.... As the firing from the Fort ceased, our men ran to the charge and the Rebels fled. We could see them running across the fields, seeking the woods on the brow of the opposite hills. Below, we could see here and there some of our own men bearing away their wounded comrades. Occasionally a bullet from some long-range rifle passed over our heads. It was an interesting and exciting spectacle." Another account says: "President Lincoln visited the lines in person, and refused to retire, although urged to do so. He exposed himself freely at Fort Stevens, and a surgeon standing alongside of him was wounded by a ball which struck a gun and glanced." A gentleman named Neill, who lived in the country, about twelve miles from the city, gives a vivid conception of the imminence of the danger. "After breakfast, on Tuesday, July 12," says Mr. Neill, "I went as usual in a railway car to the city, and before noon my house was surrounded by General Bradley Johnson's insurgent cavalry, who had made an attempt to capture the New York express train, and had robbed the country store near by of its contents. The presence of the cavalry stopped all travel by railroad; and Senator Ramsey of Minnesota, who happened to be in Washington, could find no way to the North except by descending the Potomac to its mouth and then ascending Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore. While the cavalry was in the fields around my home, the enemy's infantry was marching toward the capital by what was called the Seventh Street road, and they set fire to the residence of Hon. Montgomery Blair, who had been Postmaster-General. As I sat in my room at the President's, the smoke of the burning mansion was visible; but business was transacted with as much quietness as if the foe were hundreds of miles distant. Mr. Fox, the assistant Secretary of the Navy, had in a private note informed the President that if there should be a necessity for him to leave the city he would find a steamer in readiness at the wharf at the foot of Sixth Street. About one o'clock in the afternoon of each day of the skirmishing, the President would enter his carriage, and drive to the forts, in the suburbs, and watch the soldiers repulse the invaders." For several days Washington was in great danger of capture. Nearly all the forces had been sent forward to reinforce Grant, and the city was comparatively defenseless. But its slender garrison, mostly raw recruits, held out gallantly under the encouragement of the President, until Grant sent a column to attack Early, who promptly withdrew, and the crisis was over. This was the last time the enemy threatened the national capital. From that time he had enough to do to defend Richmond.
Lincoln labored under deep depression during the summer of 1864. The Army of the Potomac achieved apparently very little in return for its enormous expenditure of blood and treasure. Until the victories of Farragut in Mobile Bay, late in August, and Sherman at Atlanta a few days later, the gloom was unrelieved. The people were restless and impatient, and vented their displeasure upon the administration, holding it responsible for all reverses and disappointments, and giving grudging praise for success at any point. The popular displeasure was increased by the President's call for 500,000 additional troops, made July 18,—a measure which some of his strongest friends deprecated, as likely to jeopardize his re-election in November. "It is not a personal question at all," said Lincoln. "It matters not what becomes of me. We must have the men. If I go down, I intend to go like the Cumberland, with my colors flying." To the question, When is the war to end? he said, "Surely I feel as deep an interest in this question as any other can; but I do not wish to name a day, a month, or a year, when it is to end. We accepted this war for an object—a worthy object; and the war will end when that object is attained. Under God, I hope it never will end until that time."
The President's mind seemed constantly weighted with anxiety as to the movements and fortunes of our armies in the field. He could not sleep at night under this crushing load. Secretary Welles's Diary gives frequent instances of this. Once, after an engagement between the Western armies, the President, says Mr. Welles, "came to me with the latest news. He was feeling badly. Tells me a despatch was sent to him at the Soldiers' Home last night shortly after he got asleep, and so disturbed him that he had no more rest, but arose and came to the city and passed the remainder of the night awake and watchful." At another time, after a desperate battle between Grant and Lee, Mr. Welles says: "The President came into my room about one P.M. and told me he had slept none last night. He lay down for a short time on the sofa in my room, and detailed all the news he had gathered."
Ex-Governor Bross of Illinois furnishes an account of an interview with Lincoln during this dark period: "The last time I saw Mr. Lincoln, till, as a pallbearer, I accompanied his remains to their last resting-place, was in the early part of August, 1864. It was directly after the frightful disaster at Petersburg, and I was on my way to the front, to recover, if possible, the body of my brother, Colonel John A. Bross, who fell there at the head of his regiment. I found the President with a large pile of documents before him. He laid down his pen and gave me a cordial but rather melancholy welcome, asking anxiously for news from the West. Neither of us could shut our eyes to the gloom which hung over the entire country. The terrible losses of the Wilderness, and the awful disaster at Petersburg, weighed heavily upon our spirits. To a question, I answered that the people expected a still more vigorous prosecution of the war; more troops and needful appliances would, if called for, be forthcoming. 'I will tell you what the people want,' said the President, 'they want, and must have, success. But whether that come or not, I shall stay right here and do my duty. Here I shall be; and they may come and hang me on that tree' (pointing out of the window to one), 'but, God helping me, I shall never desert my post.' This was said in a way that assured me that these were the sentiments of his inmost soul."
The President, about this time, was greatly worried by Horace Greeley and others, who importuned him to receive negotiations for peace from the Confederate authorities. He at length said to Mr. Greeley, "I not only intend a sincere effort for peace, but you shall be a personal witness that it is made." On the same day that the call for additional troops was made, the President issued, through Mr. Greeley, the famous letter, "To Whom It May Concern," promising safe conduct to any person or persons authorized to present "any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery." Nothing came of the proposed negotiations, except to stop for a time the mischievous fault-finding; which was, of course, the result aimed at by Lincoln. The act was severely condemned by many Republicans; but Lincoln only said, "It is hardly fair for them to say the letter amounts to nothing. It will shut up Greeley, and satisfy the people who are clamoring for peace. That's something, anyhow!"
So much blame was heaped upon the Government, and so great was the dissatisfaction at the North, that Lincoln looked upon the election of his competitor, General McClellan, and his own retirement, as not improbable. An incident in evidence of his discouragement is related by Secretary Welles. Entering the Executive office one day, Mr. Welles was asked to write his name across the back of a sealed paper which the President handed him. The names of several other members of the Cabinet were already on the paper, with the dates of signature. After the election, Lincoln opened the document in the presence of his Cabinet and read to them its contents, as follows:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, August 23, 1864.
This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to co-operate with the President-elect so as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration.
By this careful prevision had Lincoln pledged himself to give to his successor that unselfish and patriotic assistance of which he himself had stood so sorely in need.
As the desperation of the South and the opposition to Lincoln at the North increased, fears were entertained by his friends that an attempt might be made upon his life. Lincoln himself paid but little heed to these forebodings of evil. He said, philosophically: "I long ago made up my mind that if anybody wants to kill me, he will do it. If I wore a shirt of mail and kept myself surrounded by a bodyguard, it would be all the same. There are a thousand ways of getting at a man if it is desired that he should be killed. Besides, in this case, it seems to me, the man who would succeed me would be just as objectionable to my enemies—if I have any." One dark night, as he was going out with a friend, he took along a heavy cane, remarking good-humoredly that "mother" (Mrs. Lincoln) had "got a notion into her head that I shall be assassinated, and to please her I take a cane when I go over to the War Department at nights—when I don't forget it."
It is probable that the attempts upon the life of President Lincoln were more numerous than is generally known. An incident of a very thrilling character, which might easily have involved a shocking tragedy, is related by Mr. John W. Nichols, who from the summer of 1862 until 1865 was one of the President's body-guard. "One night, about the middle of August, 1864," says Mr. Nichols, "I was doing sentinel duty at the large gate through which entrance was had to the grounds of the Soldiers' Home, near Washington, where Mr. Lincoln spent much time in summer. About eleven o'clock I heard a rifle-shot in the direction of the city, and shortly afterwards I heard approaching hoof-beats. In two or three minutes a horse came dashing up, and I recognized the belated President. The horse he rode was a very spirited one, and was Mr. Lincoln's favorite saddle-horse. As horse and rider approached the gate, I noticed that the President was bareheaded. As soon as I had assisted him in checking his steed, the President said to me: 'He came pretty near getting away with me, didn't he? He got the bit in his teeth before I could draw the rein.' I then asked him where his hat was; and he replied that somebody had fired a gun off down at the foot of the hill, and that his horse had become scared and had jerked his hat off. I led the animal to the Executive Cottage, and the President dismounted and entered. Thinking the affair rather strange, a corporal and myself started off to investigate. When we reached the place whence the sound of the shot had come—a point where the driveway intersects, with the main road—we found the President's hat. It was a plain silk hat, and upon examination we discovered a bullet-hole through the crown. We searched the locality thoroughly, but without avail. Next day I gave Mr. Lincoln his hat, and called his attention to the bullet-hole. He made some humorous remark, to the effect that it was made by some foolish marksman and was not intended for him; but added that he wished nothing said about the matter. We all felt confident it was an attempt to kill the President, and after that he never rode alone."
Amidst his terrible trials, Lincoln often exhibited a forced and sorrowful serenity, which many mistook for apathy. Even his oldest and best friends were sometimes deceived in this way. Hon. Leonard Swett relates a touching instance: "In the summer of 1864, when Grant was pounding his way toward Richmond in those terrible battles of the Wilderness, myself and wife were in Washington trying to do what little two persons could do toward alleviating the sufferings of the maimed and dying in the vast hospitals of that city. We tried to be thorough and systematic. We took the first man we came to, brought him delicacies, wrote letters to his friends, or did for him whatever else he most needed; then the next man, and so on. Day after day cars and ambulances were coming in, laden with untold sorrows for thousands of homes. After weeks of this kind of experience my feelings became so wrought up that I said to myself: The country cannot long endure this sacrifice. In mercy, both to North and South, every man capable of bearing arms must be hurried forward to Grant to end this, fearful slaughter at the earliest possible moment. I went to President Lincoln at the White House, and poured myself out to him. He was sitting by an open window; and as I paused, a bird lit upon a branch just outside and was twittering and singing most joyously. Mr. Lincoln, imitating the bird, said: 'Tweet, tweet, tweet; isn't he singing sweetly?' I felt as if my legs had been cut from under me. I rose, took my hat, and said, 'I see the country is safer than I thought.' As I moved toward the door, Mr. Lincoln called out, in his hearty, familiar way, 'Here, Swett, come back and sit down.' Then he went on: 'It is impossible for a man in my position not to have thought of all those things. Weeks ago every man capable of bearing arms was ordered to the front, and everything you have suggested has been done.'"
The burdens borne by Lincoln seemed never to tell so seriously on his strength and vitality as in this terrible battle-summer of 1864. For him there had been no respite, no holiday. Others left the heat and dust of Washington for rest and recuperation; but he remained at his post. The demands upon him were incessant; one anxiety and excitement followed another, and under the relentless strain even his sturdy strength began to give way. "I sometimes fancy," said he, with pathetic good-humor, "that every one of the numerous grist ground through here daily, from a Senator seeking a war with France down to a poor woman after a place in the Treasury Department, darted at me with thumb and finger, picked out their especial piece of my vitality, and carried it off. When I get through with such a day's work there is only one word which can express my condition, and that is flabbiness." Once Mr. Brooks "found him sitting in his chair so collapsed and weary that he did not look up or speak when I addressed him. He put out his hand, mechanically, as if to shake hands, when I told him I had come at his bidding. Presently he roused a little, and remarked that he had had 'a mighty hard day.'" Mr. Riddle, who saw him at this period, after some months' absence, says he was shocked, on gaining admission to the President, "by his appearance—that of a baited, cornered man, always on the defense against attacks that he could not openly meet and defy or punish." Mr. Carpenter, an inmate of the White House, says: "Absorbed in his papers, he would become unconscious of my presence, while I intently studied every line and shade of expression in that furrowed face. There were days when I could scarcely look into it without crying. During the first week of the battles of the Wilderness he scarcely slept at all. Passing through the main hall of the domestic apartment on one of these days, I met him, clad in a long morning wrapper, pacing back and forth a narrow passage leading to one of the windows, his hands behind him, great black rings under his eyes, his head bent forward upon his breast,—altogether such a picture of the effects of sorrow, care, and anxiety as would have melted the hearts of the worst of his adversaries, who so mistakenly applied to him the epithets of tyrant and usurper."
Mr. Edward Dicey, the English historian, says: "Never in my knowledge have I seen a sadder face than that of the late President during the time his features were familiar to me. It is so easy to be wise after the event; but it seems to me now that one ought somehow to have foreseen that the stamp of a sad end was impressed by nature on that rugged, haggard face. The exceeding sadness of the eyes and their strange sweetness were the one redeeming feature in a face of unusual plainness, and there was about them that odd, weird look, which some eyes possess, of seeming to see more than the outer objects of the world around."
Lincoln's family and friends strove to beguile him of his melancholy. They took him to places of amusement; they walked and drove with him in the pleasantest scenes about the capital; and above all, they talked with him of times past, seeking to divert his mind from its present distress by reviving memories of more joyous days. His old friends were, as Mr. Arnold states, "shocked with the change in his appearance. They had known him at his home, and at the courts in Illinois, with a frame of iron and nerves of steel; as a man who hardly knew what illness was, ever genial and sparkling with frolic and fun, nearly always cheery and bright. Now they saw the wrinkles on his face and forehead deepen into furrows; the laugh of old days was less frequent, and it did not seem to come from the heart. Anxiety, responsibility, care, thought, disasters, defeats, the injustice of friends, wore upon his giant frame, and his nerves of steel became at times irritable. He said one day, with a pathos which language cannot describe, 'I feel as though I shall never be glad again.'"
Hon. Schuyler Colfax repeats a similarly pathetic expression which fell from the lips of the afflicted President. "One morning," says Mr. Colfax, "calling upon him on business, I found him looking more than usually pale and careworn, and inquired the reason. He replied with the bad news he had received at a late hour the previous night, which had not yet been communicated to the press, adding that he had not closed his eyes or breakfasted; and, with an expression I shall never forget, he exclaimed, 'How willingly would I exchange places today with the soldier who sleeps on the ground in the Army of the Potomac!'"
A lady who saw Lincoln in the summer of 1864 for the first time, and who had expected to see "a very homely man," says: "I was totally unprepared for the impression instantly made upon me. So bowed and sorrow-laden was his whole person, expressing such weariness of mind and body, as he dropped himself heavily from step to step down to the ground. But his face!—oh, the pathos of it!—haggard, drawn into fixed lines of unutterable sadness, with a look of loneliness, as of a soul whose depth of sorrow and bitterness no human sympathy could ever reach. I was so penetrated with the anguish and settled grief in every feature, that I gazed at him through tears, and felt I had stepped upon the threshold of a sanctuary too sacred for human feet. The impression I carried away was that I had seen, not so much the President of the United States, as the saddest man in the world."
The changes in Lincoln's appearance were noted in the subdued, refined, purified expression of his face, as of one struggling almost against hope, but still patiently enduring. Mr. Brooks says, "I have known impressionable women, touched by his sad face and his gentle bearing, to go away in tears." Another observer, Rev. C.B. Crane, wrote at the time: "The President looks thin and careworn. His form is bowed as by a crushing load; his flesh is wasted as by incessant solicitude; and his face is thin and furrowed and pale, as though it had become spiritualized by the vicarious pain which he endured in bearing on himself all the calamities of his country." Truly it might be said of him, in the words of Matthew Arnold:
With aching hands and bleeding feet We dig and heap, lay stone on stone; We bear the burden and the heat Of the long day, and wish 't were done. Not till the hours of light return All we have built do we discern.
In the tragic experiences of Lincoln in these dark days, the outlook was less gloomy than it had seemed to his tortured soul. He was even then, as Mr. John Bigelow puts it, "making for himself a larger place in history than he had any idea of." He "builded better than he knew"; and the "hours of light" were soon to come when he would know what he had built and see the signs that promised better things. The Presidential election of 1864 demonstrated the abiding confidence of the people in him and his administration. Every loyal State but three—New Jersey, Delaware, and Kentucky—gave him its electoral vote; and his popular majority over McClellan, the Democratic candidate, was upwards of 400,000. Lincoln was cheered but not exultant at the news. Late in the evening of election day (November 8, 1864) he said, in response to public congratulations: "I am thankful to God for this approval of the people. But while deeply grateful for this mark of their confidence in me, if I know my own heart my gratitude is free from any taint of personal triumph. It is not in my nature to triumph over anyone; but I give thanks to Almighty God for this evidence of the people's resolution to stand by free government and the rights of humanity."
While the election returns were coming in, early in the evening, Lincoln was at the War Department with a little group assembled to hear them read. How different the scene from that in the quiet country town where he had waited for the returns on a similar occasion four years before! Then all was peace—the lull before the storm. Now the storm had broken, and its greatest fury was raging about that patient and devoted man who waited to hear the decision of the nation's supreme tribunal—the voice of the people whose decree would settle the fate of himself and of the country. Mr. Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, who was in the group, gives this description of the scene: "General Eckert was coming in continually with telegrams containing election returns. Mr. Stanton would read them, and the President would look at them and comment upon them. Presently there came a lull in the returns, and Mr. Lincoln called me up to a place by his side. 'Dana,' said he, 'have you ever read any of the writings of Petroleum V. Nasby?' 'No, sir,' I said, 'I have only looked at some of them, and they seemed to me funny.' 'Well,' said he, 'let me read you a specimen,' and pulling out a thin yellow-covered pamphlet from his breast pocket he began to read aloud. Mr. Stanton viewed this proceeding with great impatience, as I could see; but Mr. Lincoln paid no attention to that. He would read a page or a story, pause to con a new election telegram, and then open the book again and go ahead with a new passage. Finally Mr. Chase came in; and presently Mr. Whitelaw Reid, and then the reading was interrupted. Mr. Stanton went to the door and beckoned me into the next room. I shall never forget his indignation at what seemed to him disgusting nonsense."
The morning following the election one of his private secretaries, Mr. Neill, coming to the Executive office earlier than usual, found Lincoln at his table engaged in his regular routine of official work. "Entering the room," says Mr. Neill, "I took a seat by his side, extended my hand, and congratulated him upon the vote, for the country's sake and for his own sake. Turning away from the papers which had been occupying his attention, he spoke kindly of his competitor, the calm, prudent General, and great organizer."
The importance of Lincoln's re-election, to the country and to himself, is forcibly stated by General Grant and Secretary Seward. The former telegraphed from City Point, the day following: "The victory is worth more to the country than a battle won." And the same evening, at a public gathering held to celebrate the event, Mr. Seward said: "The election has placed our President beyond the pale of human envy or human harm, as he is above the pale of human ambition. Henceforth all men will come to see him as we have seen him—a true, loyal, patient, patriotic, and benevolent man. Having no longer any motive to malign or injure him, detraction will cease, and Abraham Lincoln will take his place with Washington and Franklin and Jefferson and Adams and Jackson—among the benefactors of the country and of the human race."
Lincoln evidently felt greatly reassured by the result of what had seemed to him a very doubtful contest; but with the return of cheerfulness came also the dread of continuing his official labors. He began to long and plan for that happy period at the end of the second term when he should be free from public burdens. "Mrs. Lincoln desired to go to Europe for a long tour of pleasure," says Mr. Brooks. "The President was disposed to gratify her wish; but he fixed his eyes on California as a place of permanent residence. He had heard so much of the delightful climate and the abundant natural productions of California that he had become possessed of a strong desire to visit the State and remain there if he were satisfied with the results of his observations. 'When we leave this place,' he said, one day, 'we shall have enough, I think, to take care of us old people. The boys must look out for themselves. I guess mother will be satisfied with six months or so in Europe. After that I should really like to go to California and take a look at the Pacific coast.'"