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compHment is only that part which I may lay hold of
as being the opinion of the convention and of the
League, that I am not entirely unworthy to be intrusted
with the place which I have occupied for the last three
years. But I do not allow myself to suppose that either
the convention or the League have concluded to decide
that I am either the greatest or best man in America,
but rather they have concluded that it is not best to
swap horses while crossing the river, and have further
concluded that I am not so poor a horse that they mi;>ht
not make a botch of it in trying to swap.

Second Inaugural Address. ]\Larcii 4, 1865

The Second Inaugural marks the high water level of Lin-
coln's individuality in preparing a state paper. It is far re-
moved from the conventionality usually employed on such an
occasion. It embodies the feeling and language of religion
with remarkable freedom. It illustrates brilliantly the char-
acter of his own mind and heart, and atifords an example of his
ability to trust and divine the soul of the people he addressed.
His fine humility was united with great dignity and frankness.
His love of direct thought was linked up with an unusual appre-
ciation of good taste in speech. The Address is a perfect
revelation of the man and his widened horizon as he emerged
from the darker days of the rebellion. He had grown
greater in the midst of tragic experiences. His poise had be-
come even firmer, and his outlook spiritually refined. He had
lent himself nobly to the perfection to be found in sufltering.

Fellow Countrymen : At this second appearing
to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less
occasion for an extended address than there was at
the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a
course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now,
at the expiration of four years, during which public
declarations have been constantly called forth on every
point and phase of the great contest which still ab-
sorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the
nation, little that is new could be presented. The prog-
ress of our arms, u]:)on which all else chiefly depends,

Addresses and State Papers 281

is as well know n to the public as to myself ; and it
is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to
all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in
regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years
ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impend-
ing civil war. All dreaded it — all sought to avert it.
While the inaugural address was being delivered from
this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union with-
out war, insurgent agents w^ere in the city seeking to
destroy it without w^ar — seeking to dissolve the Union,
and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties depre-
cated war ; but one of them would make war rather
than let the nation survive ; and the other would accept
war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored
slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but
localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves con-
stituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew
that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war.
To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was
the object for which the insurgents would rend the
Union, even by w^ar ; while the government claimed no
right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlarge-
ment of it.

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude
or the duration which it has already attained. Neither
anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease
with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease.
Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less
fundamental and astounding. Both read the same
Bible, and pray to the same God ; and each invokes
His aid against the other. It may seem strange that
any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in
wringing their bread from the sweat of otlier men's
faces ; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The
prayers of both could not be answered — that of neither
has been answered fully.

The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto

282 Appendix

the world because of offenses ! for it must needs be
that offenses come ; but woe to that man by whom
the offense cometh." If we shah suppose that Ameri-
can slavery is one of those offenses which, in the provi-
dence of God, must needs come, but which, having
continued through his appointed time, he now wills
to remove, and that he gives to both North and South
this terrible w^ar, as the woe due to those by whom
the offense came, shall we discern therein any depar-
ture from those divine attributes which the believers
in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we
hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge
of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that
it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's
two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be
sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the
lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword,
as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be
said, "The judgments of the Lord are true and right-
eous altogether."

With malice toward none ; with charity for all ; with
firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in ; to bind up
the nation's wounds ; to care for him who shall have
borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan —
to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and last-
ing peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

Last Public Speech. April ii, 1865

Lincoln's last public utterance was prepared carefully from
the point of view of ideas ratlier than from that of elegance.
He felt that the approach of the complex problems of recon-
struction, Tbout which he knew there was much diversity and
obstinacj^ of opinion, called for delicate and cautious discus-
sion. Although he had suffered disappointment that his plan
for Louisiana had not been followed by Congress-, now divided
between Radicals and Conservatives, Lincoln favored negro
suffrage under the restrictions here indicated. He would
follow the general principle laid down for Louisiana in the
reconstruction of the other southern states. That principle was
to make reconstruction a ])ractical method for the readmission

Addresses and State Papers 283

of the erring states, unobstructed by metaphj'sical discussions
about their constitutional status. He knew that the temper of
Congress was tens-e and that a rupture wouUl be easy. His at-
titude toward anj' problem was marked by reason and restraint.
Hence, his suspicion of the wisdom of any "exclusive and in-
flexible plan" such as Congress was disposed to demand.
Hence, also, his intimation of "some new announcement to the
people," which his tragic death prevented. The entangled
policy of Congress which followed has led many students of
reconstruction to look with favor upon the wisdom of the
plan which was taking form in Lincoln's mind, upon the prin-
ciple that the element of charity could be united with firmness
in the realization of a strong reunited nation.

Fellow Citizens : ^^'e meet this evening, not in
sorrow, but in gladness of heart. The evacuation of
Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the
principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and
speedy peace, whose joyous expression cannot be re-
strained. In the midst of this, however, He from
whom all blessings flow nutst not be forgotten. A call
for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and
will be duly promulgated. Nor must those whose
harder part give us the cause of rejoicing be over-
looked. Their honors must not be parceled out with
others. I myself was near the front, and had the high
pleasure of transmitting much of the good news to
you ; but no part of the honor for plan or execution is
mine. To General Grant, his skillful officers and brave
men, all belongs. The gallant navy stood ready, but
was not in reach to take active part.

By these recent successes the reinauguration of the
national authority — reconstruction — which has had a
large share of thought from the first, is pressed much
more closely upon our attention. It is fraught with
great difficulty. Unlike a case of war between inde-
pendent nations, there is no organized organ for us to
treat with — no one man has authority to give up the
rebellion for any other man. W'e simply must begin
with and mold from disorganized and discordant ele-
ments. Nor is it a small additional embarrassment
that we, the loyal people, differ among ourselves as to

284 Appendix

the mode, manner, and measure of reconstruction. As
a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of
attacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by
that to which 1 cannot properly otter an answer. In
spite of this precaution, however, it comes to my knowl-
edge that 1 am much censured for some supposed
agency in setting up and seeking to sustain the new
state government of Louisiana.

In this I have done just so much and no more than
the public knows. In the annual message of Decem-
ber, 1863, and in the accompanying proclamation,^
I presented a plan of reconstruction, as the phrase goes,
which I promised, if adopted by any state, should be
acceptable to and sustained by the executive govern-
ment of the nation. I distinctly stated that this was
not the only plan which might possibly be acceptable,
and I also distinctly protested that the executive
claimed no right to say when or whether members
should be admitted to seats in Congress from such
states. This plan was in advance submitted to the then
cabinet, and distinctly approved by every member of
it. One of them suggested that I should then in that
connection apply the Emancipation Proclamation to
the theretofore excepted parts of Virginia and
Louisiana ; that I should drop the suggestion about
apprenticeship for freed people, and that I should
omit the protest against my own power in regard to
the admission of members to Congress. But even
he approved every part and parcel of the plan which
has since been employed or touched by the action of

The new constitution of Louisiana, declaring eman-
cipation for the whole state, practically applies the
proclamation to the part previously excepted. It does
not adopt apprenticeship for freed people, and it is

I A proclamation defining the terms upon which persons en-
gaged in rebelHon might resume their allegiance to the United
States. See Richardson's "Alessages and Papers of the Presi-
dents," VI : 213 f.

Addresses and State Papers 285

silent. TiS it could not well be otherwise, about the ad-
mission of members to Congress. So that, as it applies
to Louisiana, every member of the cabinet fully ap-
proved the plan. The message went to Congress, and
I received many commendations of the plan, written
and verbal, and not a single objection to it from any
professed emancipationist came to my knowledge until
after the news reached Washington that the people of
Louisiana had begun to move in accordance with it.
From about July, 1862, I had corresponded with differ-
ent persons supposed to be interested [in] seeking a
reconstruction of a state government for Louisiana.
When the message of 1863, with the plan before men-
tioned, reached New Orleans, General Banks wrote
me that he was confident that the people, with his
military cooperation, would reconstruct substantially
on that plan. I wrote to him and some of them to try
it. They tried it, and the result is known. Such has
been my only agency in getting up the Louisiana gov-

As to sustaining it, my promise is out, as before
stated. But as bad promises are better broken than
kept, I shall treat this as a bad promise, and break it
whenever I shall be convinced that keeping it is adverse
to public interest ; but I have not yet been so convinced.
I have been shown a letter on this subject, svipposed to
be an able one, in which the writer expresses regret
that my mind has not seemed to be definitely fixed upon
the question whether the seceded states, so called, are
in the Union or out of it. It would perhaps add aston-
ishment to his regret were he to learn that since I have
found professed Union men endeavoring to make that
question, I have purposely forborne any public c::pres-
sion upon it. As appears to me, that question has not
been, nor yet is, a practically material one, and that any
discussion of it, while it thus remains practically im-
material, could have no efifect other than the mischiev-
ous one of dividing our friends. As yet, whatever it
may hereafter become, that question is bad as the basis

286 Appendix

of a controversy, and good for nothing at all — a merely
pernicious abstraction.

We all agree that the seceded states, so called, are
out of their proper practical relation with the Union,
and that the sole object of the government, civil and
military, in regard to those states, is to again get them
into that proper practical relation. I believe that it is
not only possible, but in fact easier, to do this without
deciding or even considering whether these states have
ever been out of the Union, than with it. Finding
themselves safely at home, it would be utterly imma-
terial whether they had ever been abroad. Let us all
join in doing the acts necessary to restoring the proper
practical relations between these states and the Union,
and each forever after innocently indulge his own opm-
ion whether in doing the acts he brought the states
from without into the Union, or only gave them proper
assistance, they never having been out of it. The
amount of constituency, so to speak, on which the new
Louisiana government rests, would be more satisfac-
tory to all if it contained 50,000, or 30,000, or even
20,000, instead of only about 12,000 as it does. It is
also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise
is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer
that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and
on those who serve our cause as soldiers.

Still, the question is not whether the Louisiana gov-
ernment, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The
question is, will it be wiser to take it as it is and help
to improve it, or to reject and disperse it? Can Loui-
siana be brought into proper practical relation with the
Union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new
state government? Some twelve thousand voters in
the heretofore slave state of Louisiana have sworn
allegiance to the Union, assumed to be the rightful
political power of the state, held elections, organized
a state government, adopted a free-state constitution,
giving the benefit of public schools equally to black and
white, and empowering the legislature to confer the

Addresses and State Papers 287

elective franchise upon the colored man. Their legis-
lature has already voted to ratify the constitutional
amendment recently passed by Congress, abolishing
slavery throughout the nation. These twelve thousand
persons are thus fully committed to the Union and to
perpetual freedom in the state — committed to the very
things, and nearly all the things, the nation wants —
and they ask the nation's recognition and its assistance
to make good their committal.

Now, if we reject and spurn them, we do our utmost
to disorganize and disperse them. We, in effect, say
to the white man : You are worthless or worse ; we
will neither help you, nor be helped by you. To the
blacks, we say : This cup of liberty, which these, your
old masters, hold to your lips, we will dash from you,
and leave you to the chances of gathering the spilled
and scattered contents in some vague and undefined
when, where, and how. If this course, discouraging
and paralyzing both white and black, has any tendency
to bring Louisiana into proper, practical relations with
the Union, I have so far been unable to perceive it. If,
on the contrary, we recognize and sustain the new gov-
ernment of Louisiana, the converse of all t^^is is made
true. We encourage the hearts and nerve the arms of
twelve thousand to adhere to their work, and argue for
it, and proselyte for it, and fight for it, and feed it, and
grow it, and ripen it to a complete success. The colored
man, too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with
vigilance, and energ}-, and daring to the same end.
Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he
not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced
steps toward it than by running backward over them ?
Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only
to what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall
sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by
smashing it.

Again, if we reject Louisiana, we also reject one vote
in favor of the proposed amendment to the national
Constitution. To meet this proposition it has been

288 Appendix

argued that no more than three-fourths of those states
which have not attempted secession are necessary to
vahdly ratify the amendment. I do not commit myself
against this further than to say that such a ratification
would be questionable, and sure to be persistently ques-
tioned, while a ratification by three-fourths of all the
states would be unquestioned and unquestionable. I
repeat the question : Can Louisiana be brought into
proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sus-
taining or by discarding her new state government?
What has been said of Louisiana will apply generally
to other states. And yet so great peculiarities pertain
to each state, and such important and sudden changes
occur in the same state, and withal so new and unpre-
cedented is the whole case, that no exclusive and inflex-
ible plan can safely be prescribed as to details and
collaterals. Such exclusive and inflexible plan would
surely become a new entanglement. Important prin-
ciples may and must be inflexible. In the present situ-
ation, as the phrase goes, it may be my duty to make
some new announcement to the people of the South.
I am considering, and shall not fail to act when satisfied
that action will be proper.


Lincoln's Platform in 1836

Lincoln was successful in his race for the legislature in 1834.
He ran again in 1836, and published in the Sangamon Journal
the following announcement and platform. He was one of
the "Long Nine" members from his count}'. He favored the
program of internal improvements encouraged by this legis-
lature, as well as the removal of the state capital from Van-
dalia to Springfield. His legislative addresses published in
Nicolay and Hay reveal the possession of a remarkably good
style and vocabularj-, together with abilit}' to cope with his
opponents in debate. This announcement, which seems hur-
riedly written, arrests attention for its endorsement of equal
suffrage. Letter reprinted from Herndon, 1 : 166. See Rich-
ards, pp. 101-103.

New Salem, June 13, 1836.

To THE Editor of the Journal : In your paper of
last Saturday I see a communication, over the signature
of "Many Voters," in which the candidates . . . an-
nounced . . . are called upon to "show their hands."
Agreed. Here's mine.

I go for all sharing the privileges of the government
who assist in bearing its burdens. Conseqitently, I go
for admitting all whites to the right of suffrage who
pay taxes or bear arms (by no means excluding

If elected, I shall consider the whole people of San-
gamon my constituents, as well those that oppose as
those that support me.

While acting as their representative, I shall be gov-
erned by their will on all subjects upon which I have
the means of knowing what their will is ; and upon all
others, I shall do what my own judgment teaches me
will best advance their interests. Whether elected or


290 Appendix

not, I go for distributing the proceeds of the sales of
the pubhc lands to the several states, to enable our
state, in common with others, to dig canals and con-
struct railroads without borrowing money and paying
the interest on it.

If alive on the first Monday in November, I shall
vote for Hugh L. White for President.
Very respectfully,

A. Lincoln.

Letter to Colonel Robert Allen. June 21, I836

Dear Colonel : I am told that during my absence
last week you passed through this place, and stated
publicly that you were in possession of a fact or facts
which, if known to the public, would entirely destroy
the prospects of N. W. Edwards and myself at the
ensuing election ; but that, through favor to us, you
should forbear to divulge them. No one has needed
favors more than I, and, generally, few have been less
unwilling to accept them ; but in this case favor to me
would be injustice to the public, and therefore I must
beg your pardon for declining it. That I once had
the confidence of the people of Sangamon is sufficiently
evident ; and if I have since done anything, either by
design or misadventure, which if known would subject
me to a forfeiture of that confidence, he that knows of
that thing, and conceals it, is a traitor to his country's

I find myself wholly unable to form any conjecture
of what fact or facts, real or supposed, you spoke ;
but my opinion of your veracity will not permit me for
a moment to doubt that you at least believed what you
said. I am flattered with the personal regard you mani-
fested for me ; but I do hope that, on more mature
reflection, you will view the public interest as a para-
mount consideration, and therefore determine to let the
worst come. I here assure you that the candid state-
ment of facts on your part, however low it may sink

Letters 291

me, shall never break the tie of personal friendship
between us. I wish an answer to this, and you are at
liberty to publish both, if you choose.

Letter to Mrs. O. H. Browning. Springfield,
April i, 1838

Dear Madam : Without apologizing for being ego-
tistical, I shall make the history of so much of my life
as has elapsed since I saw you the subject of this letter.
And, by the way, I now discover that in order to give
a full and intelligible account of the things I have done
and suffered since I saw you, I shall necessarily have
to relate some that happened before.

It was, then, in the autunm of 1836 that a married
lady of my acquaintance, and who was a great friend
of mine, being about to pay a visit to her father and
other relatives residing in Kentucky, proj^osed to me
that on her return she would bring a sister of hers with
her on condition that I would engage to become her
brother-in-law with all convenient dispatch. I, of
course, accepted the proposal, for you know I could
not have done otherwise had I really been averse to it ;
but privately, between you and me, I was most con-
foundedly well pleased with the project. I had seen
the said sister some three years before, thought her
intelligent and agreeable, and saw no good objection to
plodding life through hand-in-hand with her. Time
passed on, the lady took her journey, and in due time
returned, sister in company, sure enough. This aston-
ished me a little, for it appeared to me that her coming
so readily showed that she was a trifle too willing, but
on reflection it occurred to me that she might have been
prevailed on by her married sister to come, without
anything concerning me having been mentioned to her,
and so I concluded that if no other objection presented
itself, I would consent to waive this. All this occurred
to me on hearing of her arrival in the neighborhood —
for, be it remembered, I had not yet seen her, except

292 Appendix

about three years previous, as above mentioned. In a
few days we had an interview, and, although I had seen
her before, she did not look as my imagination had
pictured her. I knew she was over-size, but she now
appeared a fair match for Falstaff. I knew she was
called an "old maid," and I felt no doubt of the truth
of at least half of the appellation, but now, when I
beheld her, 1 could not for my life avoid thinking of
my mother ; and this, not from withered features, —
for her skin was too full of fat to permit of its con-
tracting into wrinkles — but from her want of teeth,
weather-beaten appearance in general, and from a kind
of notion that ran in my head that nothing could have
commenced at the size of infancy and reached her
present bulk in less than thirty-five or forty years ;
and, in short, I was not at all pleased with her. But
what could I do? I had told her sister that I would
take her for better or for worse, and I made a point of

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