WAR STORIES. 149
" 'Then you must see Stanton,' continued the President.
" ' I have, and with the same result,' was the reply.
" ' Well, then,' said Mr. Lincoln, with a smile, ' I can do
nothing; for you must know that I have very little influ-
ence with this Administration.' "
Lincoln and Stanton Fixing up Peace Between the Two Con-
" On the night of the 3d of March, the Secretary of
War, with others of the Cabinet, were in the company of
the President, at the Capitol, awaiting the passage of the
final bills of Congress. In the intervals of reading and
signing these documents, the military situation was con-
sidered the lively conversation tinged by the confident and
glowing account of General Grant, of his mastery of the
position, and of his belief that a few days more would see
Richmond in our possession, and the army of Lee either
dispersed utterly or captured bodily when the telegram
from Grant was received, saying that Lee had asked an in-
terview with reference to peace. Mr. Lincoln was elated,
and the kindness of his heart was manifest in intimations
of favorable terms to be granted to the conquered Kebels.
" Stanton listened in silence, restraining his emotion, but
at length the tide burst forth. * Mr. President,' said he,
1 to-morrow is inauguration day. If you are not to be the
President of an obedient and united people, you had better
not be inaugurated. Your work is already done, if any
other authority than yours is for one moment to be recog-
nized, or any terms made that do not signify you are the
supreme head of the nation. If generals in the field are to
negotiate peace, or any other chief magistrate is to be
acknowledged on this continent, then you are not needed,
and you had better not take the oath of office.'
150 LINCOLN STORIES.
" ' Stanton you are right ! ' said the President, his whole
tone changing. ' Let me have a pen.'
" Mr. Lincoln sat down at the table, and wrote as fol-
" ' The President directs me to say to you that he wishes you to have
no conference with General Lee, unless it be for the capitulation of Lee's
army, or on some minor or purely military matter. He instructs me to
say that you are not to decide, discuss, or confer upon any political
question. Such questions the President holds in his own hands, and
will submit them to no military conferences or conventions. In the
mean time you are to press to the utmost your military advantages.'
" The President read over what he had written, and then
" ' Now, Stanton, date and sign this paper, and send
it to Grant. We'll see about this peace business.'
li The duty was discharged only too gladly by the ener-
The Merciful President.
A personal friend of President Lincoln says : " I called
on him one day in the early part of the war. He had just
written a pardon for a young man who had been sentenced
to be shot, for sleeping at his post, as a sentinel. He re-
marked as he read it to me :
" 1 1 could not think of going into eternity with the blood
of the poor young man on my skirts.' Then he added :
1 It is not to be wondered at that a boy, raised on a farm,
probably in the habit of going to bed at dark, should, when
required to watch, fall asleep; and I can not consent to
shoot him for such an act.' '
This story, with its moral, is made complete by Rev.
Newman Hall, of London, who, in a sermon preached after
and upon Mr. Lincoln's death, says that the dead body of
this youth was found among the slain on the field of Fred-
WAR STORIES. 151
ericksbnrg, wearing next his heart a photograph of his pre-
server, beneath which the grateful fellow had written, " God
bless President Lincoln !"
From the same sermon another anecdote is gleaned, of a
similar character, which is evidently authentic. An officer
of the army, in conversation with the preacher, said :
" The first week of my command, there were twenty-four
deserters sentenced by court martial to be shot, and the
warrants for their execution were sent to the President to
be signed. He refused. I went to Washington and had an
interview. I said :
" ' Mr. President, unless these men are made an example
of, the army itself is in danger. Mercy to the few is cruelty
to the many.'
" He replied : ' Mr. General, there are already too many
weeping widows in the United States. For God's sake,
don't ask me to add to the number, for I won't do it.' "
No Mercy for the Man Stealer Lincoln Uses Very Strong
Hon. John B. Alley, of Lynn, Massachusetts, was made
the bearer to the President of a petition for pardon, by a
person confined in the Newburyport jail for being engaged
in the slave-trade. He had been sentenced to five years'
imprisonment, and the payment of a fine of one thousand
dollars. The petition was accompanied by a letter to Mr.
Alley, in which the prisoner acknowledged his guilt and the
justice of his sentence. He was very penitent at least, on
paper and had received the full measure of his punish-
ment, so far as it related to the term of his imprisonment ;
but he was still held because he could not pay his fine. Mr.
Alley read the letter to the President, who was much moved
by its pathetic appeals ; and when he had himself read the
152 LINCOLN STORIES.
petition, he looked up and said : " My friend that is a very
touching appeal to our feelings. You know my weakness
is to be, if possible, too easily moved by appeals for mercy,
and, if this man were guilty of the foulest murder that the
arm of man could perpetrate, I might forgive him on such
an appeal ; but the man who could go to Africa, and rob
her of her children, and sell them into interminable bond-
age, with no other motive than that which is furnished by
dollars and cents, is so much worse than the most depraved
murderer, that he can never receive pardon at my hands.
No ! He may rot in jail before he shall have liberty by
any act of mine." A sudden crime, committed under
strong temptation, was venial in his eyes, on evidence of
repentance ; but the calculating, mercenary crime of man-
stealing and man-selling, with all the cruelties that are
essential accompaniments of the business, could win from
him, as an officer of the people, no pardon.
A Touching Incident in the Life of Lincoln.
A few days before the President's death, Secretary Stan-
ton tendered his resignation of the War Department. He
accompanied the act with a heartfelt tribute to Mr. Lin-
coln's constant friendship and faithful devotion to the coun-
try; saying, also, that he as Secretary had accepted the pos-
ition to hold it only until the war should end, and that now
he felt his work was done, and his duty was to resign.
Mr. Lincoln was greatly moved by the Secretary's words,
and tearing in pieces the paper containing the resignation,
and throwing his arms about the Secretary, he said:
"Stanton, you have been a good friend and a faithful
public servant, and it is not for you to say when you will
no longer be needed here." Several friends of both parties
were present on the occasion, and there was not a dry eye
that witnessed the scene.
WAR STORIES. 153
The Great Thing About Gen. Grant as Lincoln Saw It,
Mr. Carpenter, the artist, made particular inquiry of the
President, during the progress of the Battles of the Wil-
derness, how General Grant personally inpressed him as
compared to other officers of the army, and especially those
who had been in command.
"The great thing about Grant," said he, "I take it, is
his perfect coolness and persistency of purpose. I judge
he is not easily excited, which is a great element in an offi-
cer, and has the grit of a bull-dog ! Once let him get his
'teeth ' in, and nothing can shake him off."
Lincoln's Second Nomination How He Associated it with a Very
Singular Circumstance Lincoln Sees Two Images of
Himself in a Mirror.
It appeared that the dispatch announcing Lincoln's re-
nomination for President had been sent to his office from
the War Department while he was at lunch. Afterward,
without goin,g back to the official chamber, he proceeded to
the War Department. While there, the telegram came in
announcing the nomination of Johnson.
"What ! " said he to the operator, "do they nominate a
Vice-President before they do a President?"
" Why! " rejoined the astonished official, " have you not
heard of your own nomination? It was sent to the White
House two hours ago."
"It is all right," was the reply; " I shall probably find
it on my return."
Laughing pleasantly over this incident, he said, soon
afterwards : "A very singular occurence took place the
day I was nominated at Chicago, four years ago, of which
I am reminded to-night. In the afternoon of the day, re-
turning home from down town, I went up-stairs to Mrs.
154 LINCOLN STORIES.
Lincoln's reading-room. Feeling somewhat tired, I lay
down upon a couch in the room, directly opposite a bureau
upon which was a looking-glass. As I reclined, my eye
fell upon the glass, and I saw distinctly two images of my-
self, exactly alike, except that one was a little paler than
the other. I arose, and lay down again, with the same result.
It made me quite uncomfortable for a few moments, but
some friends coming in, the matter passed out of my mind.
" The next day. while walking in the street, I was sud-
denly reminded of the circumstance, and the disagreeable
sensation produced by it returned. I had never seen any-
thing of the kind before, and did not know what to make
" I determined to go home and place myself in the same
position, and if the same effect was produced, I would
make up my mind that it was the natural result of some
principle of refraction or optics which I did not under-
stand, and dismiss it. I tried the experiment, with a like
result; and, as I had said to myself, accounting for it on
some principle unknown to me, it ceased to trouble me.
But," said he, " some time ago, I tried to produce the same
effect here, by arranging a glass and couch in the same
position, without success."
He did not say, at this time, that either he or Mrs. Lin-
coln attached any omen to the phenomenon, but it is well
known that Mrs. Lincoln regarded it as a sign that the
President would be re-elected.
How Lincoln Illustrated What Might Be Done With Jeff. Davis.
One of the latest of Mr. Lincoln's stories, was told to a
party of gentlemen, who, among the tumbling ruins of the
Confederacy, anxiously asked " what he would do with Jeff.
WAR STORIES. 155
" There was a boy in Springfield," replied Mr. Lincoln,
" who saved up his money and bought a ' coon,' which, after
the novelty wore off, became a great nuisance.
" He was one day leading him through the streets, and
had his hands full to keep clear of the little vixen, who had
torn his clothes half off of him. At length he sat down
on the curb-stone, completely fagged out. A man passing
was stopped by the lad's disconsolate appearance, and asked
" ' Oh,' was the only reply, ' this coon is such a trouble
" ' "Why don't you get rid of him, then ?' said the gentleman.
" ^Hushf said the boy; ' don't you see he is gnawing his
rope off ? I am going to let him do it, and then I will go
home and tell the folks that he got away from me!"
Lincoln's Cutting Reply to the Confederate Commission His
Story of " Root Hog or Die."
At a so-called " peace conference " procured by the vol-
untary and irresponsible agency of Mr. Francis P. Blair,
which was held on the steamer River Queen, in Hampton
Roads, on the 3d of February, 1865, between President
Lincoln and Mr. Seward, representing the government, and
Messrs. Alexander H. Stephens, J. A. Campbell and R.
M. T. Hunter, representing the rebel confederacy, Mr.
Hunter replied that the recognition of Jeff Davis' power
was the first and indispensable step to peace; and, to illus-
trate his point, he referred to the correspondence between
King Charles the First and his Parliament, as a reliable
precedent of a constitutional ruler treating with rebels.
Mr. Lincoln's face wore that indescribable expression which
generally preceded his hardest hits ; and he remarked :
" Upon questions of history I must refer you to Mr.
156 LINCOLN STORIES.
Seward, for he is posted in such things, and I don't profess
to be ; but my only distinct recollection of the matter is
that Charles lost his head ! "
Mr. Hunter remarked, on the same occasion, that the
slaves, always accustomed to work upon compulsion, under
an overseer, would, if suddenly freed, precipitate not only
themselves, but the entire society of the South, into irre-
mediable ruin. No work would be done, but blacks and
whites would starve together. The President waited for
Mr. Seward to answer the argument, but, as that gentleman
hesitated, he said :
u Mr. Hunter, you ought to know a great deal better about
this matter than I, for you have always lived under the
slave system. I can only say, in reply to your statement of
the case, that it reminds me of a man out in Illinois, by the
name of Case, who undertook, a few years ago, to raise a
very large herd of hogs. It was a great trouble to feed
them ; and how to get around this was a puzzle to him.
At length he hit upon the plan of planting an immense
field of potatoes, and, when they were sufficiently grown, he
turned the whole herd into the field and let them have full
swing, thus saving not only the labor of feeding the hogs,
but that also of digging the potatoes ! Charmed with his
sagacity, he stood one day leaning against the fence, count-
ing his hogs, when a neighbor came along :
" ' "Well, well,' said he, ' Mr. Case this is all very fine.
Your hogs are doing very well just now ; but you know
out here in Illinois the frost comes early, and the ground
freezes a foot deep. Then what are they going to do ? '
" This was a view of the matter which Mr. Case had not
taken into account. Butchering time for hogs was away on
in December or January. He scratched his head and at
length stammered: 'Well, it may come pretty hard on
their snouts, but I don't see but it will be root hog or die/'"
Attending Henry Ward Beecher's Church What Lincoln said of
Mr. Nelson Sizer, one of the gallery ushers of Henry
Ward Beecher's church in Brooklyn, told a friend that
about the time of the Cooper Institute speech, Mr. Lin-
coln was twice present at the morning services of that
church. On the first occasion, he was accompanied by his
friend, George B. Lincoln, Esq., and occupied a prominent
seat in the centre of the house. On a subsequent Sunday
morning, not long afterwards, the church was packed, as
usual, and the services had proceeded to the announcement
of the text, when the gallery door at the right of the organ-
loft opened, and the tall figure of Mr. Lincoln entered,
alone. Again ia the city over Sunday, he started out by
himself to find the church, which he reached considerably
behind time. Every seat was occupied; but the gentle-
manly usher at once surrendered his own, and, stepping
back, became much interested in watching the effect of the
sermon upon the western orator. As Mr. Beecher devel-
oped his line of argument, Mr. Lincoln's body swayed for-
ward, his lips parted, and he seemed at length entirely
unconscious of his surroundings frequently giving vent to
his satisfaction, at a well-put point or illustration, with a
kind of involuntary Indian exclamation "ugh!" not
audible beyond his immediate presence, but very expressive!
Mr. Lincoln henceforward had a profound admiration for
the talents of the famous pastor of Plymouth Church. He
once remarked to the Rev. Henry M. Field, of New York,
160 LINCOLN STORIES.
that " he thought there was not upon record, in ancient or
modern biography, so productive a mind, as had been ex-
hibited in the career of Henry "Ward Beecher ! "
Lincoln's Love for Little Tad.
No matter who was with the President, or how intently
absorbed, his little son Tad was always welcome. He almost
always accompanied his father. Once on the way to Fortress
Monroe, he became very troublesome. The President was
much engaged in conversation with the party who accom-
panied him, and he at length said:
" Tad, if you will be a good boy, and not disturb me any
more till we get to Fortress Monroe, I will give you a
The hope of reward was effectual for a while in securing
silence, but, boy-like, Tad soon forgot his promise, and was
as noisy as ever. Upon reaching their destination, how-
ever, he said, very promptly, u Father, I want my dollar."
Mr. Lincoln turned to him with the inquiry: "Tad, do
you think you have earned it '. "
" Yes," was the sturdy reply.
Mr. Lincoln looked at him half reproachfully for an in-
stant, and then taking from his pocket-book a dollar note,
he said: " Well, my son, at any rate, I will keep my part
of the bargain."
While paying a visit to Commodore Porter at Fortress
Monroe, on one occasion, an incident occurred, subsequently
related by Lieutenant Braine, one of the officers on board
the flag-ship, to the Rev. Dr. Ewer, of X ew York. Noticing
that the banks of the river were dotted with Spring blos-
soms, the President said, with the manner of one asking a
special favor: " Commodore, Tad is very fond of flowers;
won't you let a couple of your men take a boat and go
with him for an hour or two along shore, and gather a few?
It will be a great gratification to him."
An Interesting Story Lincoln at the Five Points' House of In-
dustry in New York.
When Mr. Lincoln visited New York in 1860, he felt a
great interest in many of the institutions for reforming
criminals and saving the young from a life of crime.
Among others, he visited, unattended, the Five Points'
House of Industry, and the Superintendent of the Sabbath-
school there gave the following account of the event:
' One Sunday morning, I saw a tall, remarkable-looking
man enter the room and take a seat among us. He lis-
tened with fixed attention to our exercises, and his coun-
tenance expressed such genuine interest that I approached
him and suggested that he might be willing to say some-
thing to the children. He accepted the invitation with evi-
dent pleasure; and, coming forward, began a simple address,
which at once fascinated every little hearer and hushed the
room into silence. His language was strikingly beautiful,
and his tones musical with intent feelinsr. The little faces
would droop into sad conviction as he uttered sentences of
warning, and would brighten into sunshine as he spoke
cheerful words of promise. Once or twice he attempted to
close his remarks, but the imperative shout of 'Goon!
Oh, do go on!' would compel him to resume.
As I looked upon the gaunt and sinewy frame of the
stranger, and marked his powerful head and determined
features, now touched into softness by the impressions of
the moment, I felt an irrepressible curiosity to learn some-
thing more about him, and while he was quietly leaving the
room I begged to know his name. He courteously replied:
1 It is Abraham Lincoln, from Illinois.' "
162 LINCOLN STORIES.
Lincoln and His New Hat.
Mr. G. B. Lincoln tells of an amusing circumstance
which took place at Springfield soon after Mr. Lincoln's
nomination in I860. A hatter in Brooklyn secretly
obtained the size of the future President's head, and made
for him 'a very elegant hat, which he sent by his townsman,
Lincoln, to Springfield. About the time it was presented,
various other testimonials of a similar character had come
in from different sections. Mr. Lincoln took the hat. and
after admiring its texture and workmanship, put it on his
head and walked up to a looking-glass. Glancing from the
reflection to Mrs. Lincoln, he said, with his peculiar twinkle
of the eye, ""Well, wife, there is one thing likely to come
out of this scrape, any how. "We are going to have some
Lincoln's Feat at the Washington Navy Yard With an Axe.
One afternoon during the Summer of 1862, the President
accompanied several gentlemen to the Washington Xavy
Yard, to witness some experiments with a newly-invented
gun. Subsequently the party went aboard of one of the
steamers lying at the wharf. A discussion was going on
as to the merits of the invention, in the midst of which Mr.
Lincoln caught sight of some axes hanging up outside of
the cabin. Leaving the group, he quietly went forward,
and taking one down, returned with it, and said:
" Gentlemen, you may talk about your ' Raphael repeat-
ers ' and ' eleven-inch Dahlgrens;' but here is an institution
which I guess I understand better than either of you.'*
With that he held the axe out at arm's length by the end of
the handle, or '< helve," as the wood-cutters call it a feat
not another person of the party could perform, though all
made the attempt.
In such acts as tMs, showing that he neither forgot nor
was ashamed of his humble origin, the good President ex-
hibited his true nobility of character. He was a perfect
illustration of his favorite poet's words :
" The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gold, for a' that I"
Lincoln's Failure as a Merchant He, However, Six Years Later
Pays the " National Debt."
It is interesting to recall the fact that at one time Mr.
Lincoln seriously took into consideration the project of
learning the blacksmith's trade. He was without means,
and felt the immediate necessity of undertaking some busi-
ness that would give him bread. It was while he was en-
tertaining this project that an event occurred which, in his
undeterminded state of mind, seemed to open a way to
success in another quarter.
A man named Reuben Radford, the keeper of a small
store in the Village of New Salem, had somehow incurred
the displeasure of the Clary's Grove Boys, who had exer-
cised their "regulating" prerogatives by irregularly break-
ing in his windows. William G. Greene, a friend of young
Lincoln, riding by Radford's store soon afterward, was
hailed by him, and told that he intended to sell out. Mr.
Greene went into the store, and, looking around, offered him
at random four hundred dollars for his stock. The offer
was immediately accepted.
Lincoln happening in the next day, and being familiar
with the value of the goods, Mr. Greene proposed to him
to take an inventory of the stock, and see what sort of a
bargain he had made. This he did, and it was foumd that
the goods were worth six hundred dollars. Lincoln then
made him an offer of a hundred and twenty-five dollars for
164 LINCOLN STORIES.
his bargain, with the proposition that lie and a man named
Berry, as his partner, should take his (Greene's) place in the
notes given to Radford. Mr. Greene agreed to the arrange-
ment, but Radford declined it, except on condition that
Greene would be their security, and this he at last as-
Berry proved to be a dissipated, trifling man, and the
business soon became a wreck. Mr. Greene was obliged to
go in and help Lincoln close it up, and not only do this
but pay Radford's notes. All that young Lincoln won
from the store was some very valuable experience, and the
burden of a debt to Greene which, in conversations with the
latter, he always spoke of as the National debt. But this
national debt, unlike the majority of those which bear the
title, was paid to the uttermost farthing in after years.
Six years afterwards, Mr. Greene, who knew nothing of
the law in such cases, and had not troubled himself to in-
quire about it, and who had in the meantime removed to
Tennessee, received notice from Mr. Lincoln that he was
ready to pay him what he had paid for Berry he (Lincoln)
being legally bound to pay the liabilities of his partner.
Funeral Services of Lincoln's Mother The Old Pastor and
Young Abraham A Remarkable
Several months after the death of Lincoln's mother
which occurred when he was but a few years old, child as
he was, he wrote to Parson Elkin who had been their pas-
tor when residing in Kentucky, begging him to come to
Indiana, and preach her funeral sermon.
This was asking a great favor of their former minister,
for it would require him to ride on horseback a hundred
miles through the wilderness; and it is something to be re-
membered to the humble itinerant's honor that he was will-
ing to pay this tribute of respect to the woman who had so
thoroughly honored him and his sacred office. He replied
to Abraham's invitation, that he would preach the sermon