Hiram P Crozier.

The nation's loss. A discourse upon the life, services, and death of Abraham Lincoln, late president of the United States online

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Online LibraryHiram P CrozierThe nation's loss. A discourse upon the life, services, and death of Abraham Lincoln, late president of the United States → online text (page 1 of 2)
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H. P. CROZIER. '^^FWASHms32>

Delivered at Huntington, L. I,, April 19tJi, 1S65.





My Friexds : Less tlian one short Aveek ago we were gathered
in this Hall, to rejoice and congratulate one another for the signal
victory of our national arras, boding the brighter victory of peace.
Even while we were then speaking, and pleading for forgiveness
tOAvard the South AvhencA^r she shall lay down her arms, the as-
sassin Avas doing his work of death. The chief head of a great
nation has been laid Ioav in death. An insignificant man, inspired
by the passions of a flying fiend, shoots the President of thirty
millions of people, AA^hen this people, seemingly, most need his
great Avisdom, justness, mercifulness, goodness of heart, to direct
them through the perils that beset the state. We were all look-
ing at the rainbow of a near peace, and behold ! the dagger of
the assassin. A mine is sprung beneath us, the earth upheaves,
SAralloAVS up our leader, and threatens to engulf, with him, the
first statesman of the age ; and henceforth we tremble at the pos-
sibilities around us. .We knoAV no limit to evil plots and traps
after the gigantic evil consummation of the last week. Patient
investigation has shown that the plot, if not Avide-spread, was
deep-laid, and awful beyond parallel in its infamy. It contem-
]ilatcd the assassination of CA'cry chief head of the National Goa'-
urnment, hoping thereby to bcAvilder and stun the intellect and
heart of the great American people — to palsy its great arm lifted
in Avar, and during the syncope of the nation, the paralysis of its
Avar-poAver, to revive the staggering fortunes of the rebellion, and
compel a false peace by recognition and separation. The plot so
awful has signally failed, although in part so mournfully success-
ful. The saviour of the country has fallen that the aA'^nger may
arise ! The people, already believing that they had seen the bot-
tom of the rebellion, are suddenly called upon to look loAA'^er
doAvn into the frightful cup of horrors given them in the murder
of their President and the attempted murder of their Secretary
of State ; and as the first shot of the rebellion against Sumter
aroused the North and fused the North, so this last stroke of re-
bellion, through the bloody hand of the assassin, will steel every
heart, nerve every arm, brace every will, quicken into life every

4 THE nation's loss,

ounce of blood, and make articulate the demand that this rebel-
lion, Avith slavery, its first cause, its continued inspiration, and its
last fiendish instigator, shall utterly and forever perish, and that the
principal and conspicuous leaders in this crime of all crimes in
history shall have condign punishment. When before was a man
in public life assassinated for his goodness, his impartial sense of
right, and truth, and justice, his love of clemency ? William of
Orange, " the father of his country," fell by the hand of the as-
sassin, I3althazar Gerard, in 1584, while the little States of Hol-
land were in the midst of their great struggle with the gigantic
power of Spain. But that was almost three hundred years ago.
That was the middle and last of the sixteenth century. That was
in the days of the Inquisition, the days of intolerance, the days
of intrigue, when court-lying, bribery, and assassination were the
rule, not the exception. When we look into the history of the
Roman Empire, that great cauldron of social forces, boiling with
feculent scum, we are not surprised that civil war should break
out between CtBsar and Pompey ; that Pompey should be assas-
sinated ; that Co3sar should fall by the hand of Brutus and Cas-
sius ; that men, palsied with fear, should league together, form
triumvirates, and, calling their league the government, brand all
their opposers as public enemies, and mark them for execution.
So Cicero and many of the best citizens of Rome fell victims to
Octavius, Anthony, and Lepidus. We do not wonder that mon-
stei's like Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, drunk with crime and blood,
should be born amid these pestilent social vapors. We see that
the times fitted the men, and the men the times. The crucifixion
of Christ, coming into a province of Rome, ceases to astonish us.
The imprisonment of some of his apostles, the beheading of John
and Paul, the ten jDersecutions, were all natural growths upon the
poisoned soil of a false religion, a false state, bound to shut out
the new and maintain the old. That the new and true should
come and conquer the old and the false, with such tremendous
odds to overcome, is proof of the amazing forces of the higher
faculties of human nature, and of the immortal spiritual powers
with which they are leagued, and from which a deathless inspira-
tion comes to uplift and save mankind. Tlie whole history and
character of this war, beginning in bloody revolt against benig-
nant and republican authority, and growing into the barbarism of
making relics and charms out of the bones of loyal soldiers, starv-
ing to death loyal jjrisoners, massacring colored soldiers, and
culminating in the assassination of President Lincoln, while aim-
ing to strike down every head and paralyze every arm of the
Govermnent, shows us, what every page of past history repeats,
that evil, falsity, crime, oppression, enthroned wrong of any kind,
none of these demons ever are cast out of a people without teai*-
ing and rending them. No great truth throws its disinfecting
light into tlie depths of a nation's darkness and barbarism, with-
out intensifying that liglit Avith the halo of martyrdom. Half a
million of brave men, and the head man of the nation, crown the

TnE nation's loss. 6

offering vre have already jiaid to the demon of slavery and false
conservatism, in Church and State, not yet fully cast out !

As we, my friends, in sympathy gather around the lifeless
corpse of our beloved President, let us try to patiently look at his
life, weigh his character and otHcial acts, and see what was the
" gift of God " in this man to ns, and Avliat is the nation's loss.

1. We are not to he curious about all the little incidents of his
early and unofficial life at this time. This is the province of his-
tory. It seems proper to say that he was born obscure, poor, and
struggled in early life and early manhood for support and social
recognition. This is said, not that this is the only country in
which poor and obscure men can and do rise to great usefulness
and eminence, but because it seems a universal law^, with very
few exceptions, that the prophets, leaders, sages, heroes, martyrs,
saviours of the race shall spring- from the humble classes. The
scholars, kings, and conservatives spring from the wealthier

All the prophets of the Hebrew nation but one sprang np from
the soil of the common people. But one, Jeremiah alone, was of
the sacerdotal race. He wept with his people, and perished in
their captivity. Jesus was born of a peasant-gii'l and cradled in
a manger. Mohammed's patrimony was only five camels and
one slave, and his early life was serving in a store at Mecca. Lu-
ther was the son of a ^^oor miner of Mansfeld, and in his i:)0verty
sang for his bread from door to door ! Calvin's father was nei-
ther rich nor learned, but an obscure man in Picardy. "Wesley
w^as the son of an English clergyman having only the living at

It is no rare or exceptional thing that providential great men
should arise from humble conditions. " God hath chosen the weak
things of this world to confound the mighty, .... and things
that are not, to bring to nauglit things that are." If any extra-
ordinary mission of a beneficent character has been given of God
to Abraham Lincoln, for the deliverance of this nation from the
demon that has scourged it, and torn it, and driven it into the
fury and flame of civil war, then the early poverty, struggle, em-
barrassment, obscurity of the great leader whom the nation
mourns to-day, are all in keeping with the line of descent from
which like-minded men usually spring.

Abraham Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, Feb-
ruary 12, 1809. He early removed to Sangamon Coimty, Illinois.
In 1830-31, as he was attaining his majority, the whole region
was covered breast-high Avith a snow-storm ; winter wheat per-
ished, cattle and horses died, the settlers' meagre stock of provi-
sions ran out. " For three months,'.the old settlers said, not a
warm sun shone upon the surface of the snow." Commimication
from house to house by teams was cut off". Many wealthy settlers
came near starving ; poorer ones actually did starve. Sui)plies
were sent from house to house, and exchanges made by brave and
stout young men on foot, able to bear the perils of the snow. In

6 THE nation's loss.

these labors of simple linmanity, that prove the really true and
great-hearted man, young Lincoln was active. The good Samar-
itan, that helps his fellow-man in trouble, is the all of practical
Christianity. " This is more than all burnt-ofibrings and sacri-
fices." " This do, and thou shalt live."

In 1836-7, Mr. Lincoln was elected a member of the Illinois
Legislature. The State was radically pro-slavery, and in both
branches of the General Assembly resolutions of a strong pro-
slavery character having been passed, you will find a protest
against them on the journals of the House, dated March 3, 1837 :

" The undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.
They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and
bad policj', but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to
increase than abate its evils.

(Signed) "Dan. Stone,

"A. Lincoln,
" Representatives from the County of Sangamon."

Here gleams the moral courage and the political prudence which
both together illustrated Mr. Lincoln's life. To say the slave-
trade is piracy, cost Garrison his liberty and a fine of fifty,
dollars in Baltimore in 1832. To discuss slavery in Boston, in
1836, cost him a mob. To call slavery a sin and a crime in 1836,
in Utica, cost Gerrit Smith and hundreds a violent mob, which
followed them thirty miles, to Peterboro, hooting, and yelling,
and throwing missiles and odorous eggs along the way. To ar-
raign slavery in 1846-7, during the ^lexican War, cost mobs in
Central iSTew-York. To arraign slavery and Webster's and Fill-
more's Fugitive Slave Law in 1850-1, cost mobs in New-York,
Boston, Philadelphia, and in every considerable town in the land.
To declare war against slavery, after slavery has declared war
against the life of the nation, has cost riots, bloodshed, and armed
resistance to the draft. To stand by the Government during
these four years of bloody agony, and sweat, and almost death, has
cost menace^ and misrepresentation, and onob violence in this
town. Then think of Dan. Stone and A. Lincoln, in benighted
Illinois, in 1836-7, twenty-nine years ago, putting on the jom-nals
of the House their public protest : " We believe that the institu-
tion of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy."
Courage like that is the stufi" out of Avhich God makes Presidents
for revolutionary times.

In 1846-7, ]Mr. Lincoln was a member of the Thirtieth Con-
gress. This was, perhaps, the ablest and stormiest Congress that
ever assembled in our country. Debates ran high between Whigs
and Democrats on Tariffs, River and Harbor Improvements, the
liights of Petition, the Abolition of Slavery in the District of Co-
lumbia, and that great piece of national wickedness, the Mexican
War. Mr. Lincoln's first vote was in favor of the Harbor and
lliver Improvement Bill. The vote was given in fiivor of these
resolutions :


. "Hcsohed, That if, in the judgment of Congress, it be necessary to im-
prove the navigation of a river, to expedite and render secure the move-
ments of our army, and save from delay and loss our arms and munitions
of war, Congress has the power to improve such river.

" Resolved., That if it be necessary to the preservation of the lives of our
seamen, repairs, safety, or maintenance of our vessels of war, to improve a
harbor or inlet, either on our Atlantic or Lake coast, Congress has the
power to make such improvement."

These resolutions, the very essence of wise statesmansMp, were
laid upon the table, Mr. Lincoln voting for them.

The next clay Mr. Giddings presented a memorial from cei'tain
persons in the District of Columbia, asking Congress to repeal all
laws upholding the slave-trade in the District. Mr. Giddings
moved to refer the memorial to the Judiciary Committee, with
instructions to inquire into the constitutionality of all laws by
which slaves are held as j^roperty in the District of Columbia.
Mr. Lincoln voted for the resolution.

The Mesica2T "Wae.

Mr. Lincoln was opposed to the Mexican War from principle —
opposed to the declaration of war against Mexico by the Presi-
dent of the United States, and on December 22, 1847, he intro-
duced an elaborate yet concise preamble and set of resolutions of
inquiry, criticising the Messages of President Polk, and throwing
the responsibility for the first aggressions upon the administration,
for sending a hostile force across the boundary-line in opposition
to the advice of General Taylor, who said to the President:
" That, in his opinion, no such movement was necessary to the
defense or protection of Texas." The war was a Democratic
war ; but, nevertheless, after the President had commenced the
war, a Whig House of Representatives, by a vote of 192 to 14,
voted sixteen million dollars for supplies, Mr. Lincoln voting for
the bill.

When the war was over, and new territory was acquired from
Mexico for indemnity, Mr. Lincoln voted, with Clay, Corwin,
Webster, and the great lights of the Whig party, to shut slavery
from all the new territories. So, in August, 1847, when the bill
came up for the organization of the Territory of Oregon^ a mo-
tion was made to strike out that part of the bill which ex-
tended the Jeflersonian proviso, known as the ordinance of 1787,
over Oregon Territory. That ordinance excluded slavery from
all the then North-Western Territories. Mr. Lincoln voted, with
one hundred and thirteen other members, to retain the ordinance.

The Gott Resolution.

On the 21st of December, 1848, Mr. Gott offered in the House
the following resolution :

8 THE nation's loss,

" Wliei'eas, The traffic now prosecuted in this metropolis of the Repub-.
lie, in human beings as chattels, is contrary to natural justice and the fun-
damental principles of our political system, and is notoriously a reproach to
our country throughout Christendom, and a serious hindrance to the prog-
ress of republican liberty among tlie nations of the earth ; therefore

^^ Besolved, That the Committee for the District of Columbia be in-
structed to report a bill, as soon as practicable, prohibiting the slave-trade
in said District."

Here Mr. LincolM^s policy ruled him for once — not the hitherto
uniform principle of his life. He forsook his party — forsook men
like Aslimun, Bingham, Dickinson, Gicldings, Greeley, Hale, and
voted with the opposition — with such men as Botts, Crozier of
Tennessee ; Pendleton, Stephens, and Toombs. He voted against
the abolition of the slave-trade in the capital where he was assas-
sinated. Aaron and Moses, that had led the children of Israel for
years in the wilderness and through their various vicissitudes,
both died on the borders of the promised land — one on Mount
Hor, the other on Mount Nebo. Neither were allowed to enter
it for one sin against God. But the joeople went forward under
new leaders and possessed it. I am not superstitions — not given
to believe in special providences, only as all providences are spe-
cial. But certainly I believe this great people are going forward
to possess a free land, and certainly we know that he wlio has
visibly led ns thus far leads us no more. The ways of God are
past finding out.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 98 to 88, Mr. Lincoln
having no part nor lot in voting to free the capital of the nation
from the sin and crime of the slave-trade. Said the National
Era :

" Men will wonder, twenty-five years hence, how eighty-eight men, in an
American Congress, could stand up before God and virtually vote for the
continuance of the trade in human beings in tlie capital of the foremost
Republic in the world."

It is less than twenty years since this vote was given, and lo !
what hatli God Avrought !

On the 10th January, 1849, the Gott resolution against the
slave-trade in the District of Columbia was again before the
House, a motion to reconsider having been previously enter-
tained. Mr. Lincoln now, by the courtesy of his colleague, Mi*.
Wentworth, who had tlie floor, offered a substitute for the Gott
resolution. It provided :

" 1. That no person not then in the District of Columbia, nor owned
there, nor hereafter born there, should be held in slavery there.

" 2. That no person so held, or owned, or born a slave in the District,
shall be held as a slave out of the District ; save that officers of the United
States Government there, on government duties, might bring tlieir servants
as slaves with them, and return without impairing their rights.

" 3. That all children born of slave mothers, within said District, on or

THE nation's loss. 9

after J;inuary 1, 1850, shall be free, and shall bo reasonably supported and
educated by their respective owners until they arrive at — age, when they
shall be entirely free.

" 4. That all persons then held as slaves in the District of Columbia
shall so remain at the will of their owners, provided said owners do not
elect to sell said persons, for their full value, to the United States. The
President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of the Treasury were made a
board for determining such value.

"5. The municipal authorities in "Washington and Georgetown were re-
quired to arrest and deliver up all fugitive slaves escaping into the District,

" 6. This act was to take effect only on condition that it was approved
by a majority of the electors of the District."

YotT will see tlint policy predominates over principle in this
bill — that expediency is put before right. It is not a bill at all,
in any of the ordinary features of legislation. It is simply an en-
abling act for the electors of the District of Columbia, to enable
them, if thcT/ so voted, to sell out, for the full value, their slaves to
the Government of the United States. So late as 1858, in his
great debate with Mr. Douglas, which placed Mr. Lincoln in the
very front rank as a leader, a ready debater, a statesman, and a
patriot, he frankly put himself on record before the world as "not
pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia,
and not in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave
Law." I have been patient and particular on this point for two
reasons : first, it is fitting that the truth should be spoken ; second,
this bondage of Mr. Lincoln to what he honestly deemed consti-
tutional obligations, will disarm his enemies when they charge
him with abolitionism, and also serve as a landmark from which
we may trace the growth of his convictions and character. No
man but the wavering man, the unstable man, the insincere man,
is ever injured by the comparison of his present with his past life.
The good man grows ; the bad man stands still, or, attempting to,
" like a crab goes backward." The true man sees the new light,
and sees old things in the new relations which new light always
discovers. The false man, " having eyes, sees not ; having ears,
hears not," simply because he has chosen not to see and hear !
This was the sin of the Jews — not that they did not see Cln-ist
before he came, but they would not see him after he came. The
very works which he wrought they charged to Beelzebub, the
prince of devils. This is the sin of the South, and of the mis-
guided opponents of the Government all over South and North at
this hour. And for this sin alone the whole land is blasted with
war and shrouded with mourning !

Public Lands.

Before leaving Congress, Mr. Lincoln put himself on record in
favor of the Homestead Bill. Pie voted for Mr. McClellan's Land
Bill, crude as it was, because, he said, he was willing to give the
public lands to the people rather than to speculators. In Con-

10 THE KATION'S loss.

gress he was true, as he believed then, to his anti-slavery i^^rinci-
plcs, always voting against the extension of slavery in the Terri-
tories, standing with such statesmen as Webster and Clay. On
the Mexican War he acted with the Whig party, refusing to just-
ify the war itself, but votnig supplies for it that the war debt
might be liquidated. He steadily and earnestly opposed the an-
nexation of Texas, and labored with all his powers in behalf of
" the " Wilniot Proviso."

Ten years in so-called private life. In the National Convention
of 1S48, Mr. Lincoln was a member, and advocated the nomina-
tion of General Zachary Taylor, and sustained the nomination by
an active canvass in Illinois and Indiana. He sought no reAvards
from the Government for his labors, but settled down to tlio hard
work of his profession of law, from 1849 to 1854, losing his inter-
est in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and
the Kansas and Nebraska villainies, brought him before the pub-
lic, and roused all the slumbering energies of his great nature.
Circumstances don't make men. God makes them, but circum-
stances discover them. George Washington would have been
George Washington had there been no American Revolution.
He would have been known, however, only as a practical sur-
veyor, a large and thrifty farmer, a good neighbor, a true hus-
band and friend. All his qualities of command, of patience, of
hope, of patriotism, that have made him, like William of Orange,
his great prototype, " the father of his country," were brought
out hi the furnace of the American devolution. When there is
need of great men they are sure to be produced. The political
convulsions of 1850-54 made Abraham Lincoln widely known as
emphatically one of the very ablest debaters in the land, and
opened up the way for his first nomination for the Presidency in
1860. Those who in 18G0 asked the question, " Who is Abra-
ham Lincoln ?" merely proclaimed their ignorance of tohat he
teas. His historian says :

" Fully three fourths of the ability and the unwearying labor, wliich re-
sulted in the redemption of Illinois, and the election of Lyman Trumbull
to the Senate of the United States, should be awarded to Abraham Lincoln.
He confronted Mr. Douglas at every point throughout that greatest State
of the AVest, confounded his sophistries, answered his arguments, impaled
his shabbj'- theory of squatter sovereignty ! A revolution swept the State.
Mr. Lincohi pressed the slavery issue upon the people of Central and South-
ern Illinois, largely made up of emigrants from Kentucky, Tennessee, Vir-
ginia, and North-Carolina, with all the powers of his great mind. He car-
ried every thing before him. For the first time, Illinois had a republican
Legislature. The election came on, and Mr. Lincoln, after uniting all the
strength of his party, on repeated ballots, for the high honor of United
States Senator, went to his own friends and desired them to drop his name,
and unite on Judge Trumbull. He thus secured, by an act of generous
self-sacrifice, a triumph for the cause of right, and an advocate on the floor
of the Senate not inferior in zeal for the principles of republicanism to any
member of that body."


Online LibraryHiram P CrozierThe nation's loss. A discourse upon the life, services, and death of Abraham Lincoln, late president of the United States → online text (page 1 of 2)