MR. LINCOLN A STATESMAN.
"^HERE is a popular impression that the wise states-
JL manship displayed by our national government
during the late civil war, in its foreign relations, was al-
most wholly due to the direction of the intellect and judg-
ment of Secretary Seward. It is attested, on the contrary,
by persons supposed to have knowledge of some of the
secrets of the Cabinet of President Lincoln, that some of
the wisest acts of statesmanship that marked the career of
Mr. Seward in his intercourse with foreign governments,
during the administration of Mr. Lincoln, were inspired by
the suggestions of the President. In support of the latter
position, a single incident may suffice, which came under
the observation of the writer. It had relation to perhaps
the most delicate question of right which arose between
the United States and Great Britain during that war.
The incident was the surrender of Mason and Slidell,
Confederate ambassadors to European courts.
The writer was in Washington when the news reached
there of the capture of those two arch-conspirators against
the life of the republic, by Captain Wilkes, commander of
the national steam sloop-of-war San Jacinto, whom he had
forcibly taken from the British mail steamer Trent. The
act of Captain Wilkes was universally applauded by all
loyal Americans, and the land was filled with rejoicings
because two of the most mischievous men among the
enemies of the Government were in custody. For the
328 BENSON J. LOSSING.
moment, men did not stop to consider the law or the^ ex-
pediency involved in the act. Public honors were
tendered to Captain Wilkes, and resolutions of thanks
were passed by public bodies. The Secretary of the
Navy wrote him a congratulatory letter on the " great
public services " he had rendered in " capturing the rebel
emissaries, Mason and Slidoll," and assured him that his
conduct had " the emphatic approval of the department."
The House of Representatives tendered him their thanks
for the service he had done. But there was one thought-
ful man in the nation, in whom was vested the tremen-
dous executive power of the republic at that time, and
whose vision was constantly endeavoring to explore the
mysteries of the near future, who had indulged calmer
and wiser thoughts than most men at that critical mo-
ment, because his feelings were kept in subjection to his
judgment by a sense of heavy responsibility. That man
was Abraham Lincoln.
The writer was in the office of the Secretary of War
when the telegraphic dispatch announcing the capture of
Mason and Slidell was brought in and read. He can
never forget the scene that ensued. Led by Secretary
Stanton, who was followed by Governor Andrew of
Massachusetts, and others who were present, cheer
after cheer was heartily given by the company. A little
later, the writer, accompanied by the late Elisha
Whittlesey, then the venerable First Comptroller of the
Treasury, was favored with a brief interview with the
President, when the clear judgment of that far-seeing and
sagacious statesman uttered through his lips the words
BENSON /. LOSSING. 329
whith formed the suggestion of and the key-note to the
judicious action of the Secretary of State afterwards.
" I fear the traitors will prove to be white elephants,"
said Mr. Lincoln. " We must stick to American princi-
ples concerning the rights of neutrals," he continued. " We
fought Great Britain for insisting, by theory and practice,
on the right to do just what Captain Wilkes has just
done. If Great Britain shall now protest against the act
and demand their release, we must give them up, apolo-
gize for the act as a violation of our doctrines, and thus
forever bind her over to keep the peace in relation to
neutrals, and so acknowledge that she has been wrong
for sixty years."
Great Britain did protest and make the demand, also
made preparations for war against the United States at
the same moment. On the same day when Lord John
Russell sent the protest and demand to Lord Lyons, the
British minister at Washington, Secretary Seward for-
warded a dispatch to Minister Adams in London, inform-
ing him that this Government disclaimed the act of
Captain Wilkes, and giving assurance that it was ready to
make a satisfactory arrangement of all difficulties arising
out of the unauthorized act. These dispatches passed
each other in mid-ocean.
The Government, in opposition to popular sentiment,
decided at once to restore Mason and Slidell to the pro-
tection of the British flag. It was soon afterwards done,
war between the two nations was averted, and, in the
language of President Lincoln, the British Government
was " forever bound to keep the peace in relation to
330 3ENSOX J. LOSSING.
The wise statesmanship exhibited at that critical time
was originated by Abraham Lincoln.
DOVER PLAINS, 1882.
G. 24JRNESJ. M. BAILEY. 331
THE right man in the right place was never more
clearly seen than in the story of President Lin-
coln. His simplicity and humor, his patient wisdom and
hopeful courage, his conspicuous integrity and universal
charity made him by all odds the most impressive figure
of our dark days. And coming years can only make more
tender the affection and more profound the reverence
which his own age has been proud to give to the savior
of his country.
IT must be confessed that Mr. Lincoln's early life gave
no promise of the power he showed at the head of
the nation ; but I believe he was born for the emergency,
and when it came I am confident that of the three in-
terested the emergency, Mr. Lincoln, and the American
public the emergency was the most completely aston-
ished. It is my humble judgment that in all the positions
the grea'; crisis forced him into he was a perfect fit.
D ANBURY, 1882.
332 ADDRESS TO THE POLITICAL CLVBS.
ADDRESS TO THE POLITICAL CLUBS,
IT has long been a grave question whether any
government not too strong for the liberties of its people
can be strong enough to maintain its existence in great
On this point the present rebellion has brought our
republic to a severe test, and a presidential election
occurring in regular course during the rebellion, has
added not a little to the strain. If the loyal people,
united, were put to the utmost of their strength by the
rebellion, must they not fail when divided and partially
paralyzed by a political war among themselves. ?
But the election was a necessity. We cannot have a
free government without elections ; and if the rebellion
could force us to forego or postpone a national election,
it might fairly claim to have already conquered and
The strife of the election is but human nature prac-
tically applied to the facts in the case. What has oc-
curred in this case must ever recur in similar cases.
Human nature will not change. In any future great
national trial, compared with the men who have passed
through this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as
silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us therefore
study the incidents of this as philosophy to learn wisdom
from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.
While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment
ADDRESS TO THE POLITICAL CLUBS. 333
of a re-election, and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty
God for having directed my countrymen to a right con-
clusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing
to my satisfaction that any other man may be dis-
appointed or pained by the result. May I ask those
who have not differed with me to join with me in this
same spirit towards those who have ?
334 INTERVIEW WITH A GENTLEMAN.
INTERVIEW WITH A GENTLEMAN.
THERE have been men base enough to propose to me
to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson
and Olustee, and thus win the respect of the masters they
fought. Should I do so, I should deserve to be damned
in time and eternity. Come what will, I will keep my
faith with friend and foe. My enemies pretend I am
now carrying on this war for the sole purpose of aboli-
tion. So long as I am President, it shall be carried on
for the sole purpose of restoring the Union. But no
human power can subdue this rebellion without the use
of the emancipation policy, and every other policy cal-
culated to weaken the moral and physical forces of the
JAMES SHRIGLEY. 335
MY first visit with Mi Lincoln was a few days before
he issued his Emancipation Proclamation, when I
was introduced by the Hon. John Covode. The President
was walking his room, apparently under great excitement,
and spoke to Mr. Covode in nearly the following words,
which made a deep impression on my mind : " I have
studied that matter well ; my mind is made up it must
be done. I am driven to it. There is to me no other
way out of our troubles. But although my duty is plain,
it is in some respects painful, and I trust the people will
understand that I act not in anger, but in expectation of
a greater good." These few words revealed to me some
of the noble attributes of his nature. " I do it not in
anger, but in expectation of a greater good." Nothing
but the honest sense of duty could have induced him to
issue that proclamation, and this he desired the people to
know, that his motives might not be misunderstood. No
man was ever more free from the spirit of revenge or
more conscientious in the discharge of his duties. Pres-
ident Lincoln was also remarkably tolerant. He was
the friend of all, and never, to my knowledge, gave the
influence of his great name to encourage sectarianism in
any of its names or forms ; he had " charity for all and
malice toward none."
The following is in proof. Immediately after the
earliest battles of the war most of the sick and wounded
were brought to the Philadelphia hospitals for treatment,
and I was in daily receipt of letters from my denomina-
33 6 JAMES SHRIGLEY.
tional friends soliciting me to visit husbands and .brothers
who were among the sick and wounded. As much of
my time was thus occupied, and at considerable expense,
it was suggested by the Hon. Henry D. Moore that
application be made for the position of hospital chaplain,
and it was on the recommendation of Mr. Moore and
Governor Curtin that the President made the nomination.
Soon as it was announced in the papers that my name
had been sent to the Senate for confirmation a self-con-
stituted committee of 4< Young Christians "(?) consulted
with a few others, as bigoted as themselves, and volun-
teered their services to visit Washington and try to induce
the President to withdraw the name. It so happened
that when these gentlemen called on the President Mr.
Covode was present and made known the interview to a
reporter, and it thus became public. It was in substance
as follows :
"We have called, Mr. President, to confer with you
in regard to the appointment of Mr. Shrigley, of Phila-
delphia, as hospital chaplain."
The President responded : " Oh, yes, gentlemen ; I
have sent his name to the Senate, and he will no doubt
be confirmed at an early day."
One of the young men replied : " We have not come
to ask for the appointment, but to solicit you to with-
draw the nomination."
"Ah," said Lincoln, "that alters the case; but on
what ground do you wish the nomination withdrawn ?"
The answer was, " Mr. Shrigley is not sound in his
JAMES SHR1GLEY. 337
The President inquired : " On what question is the
gentleman unsound ?"
Response. " He does not believe in endless punish,
ment; not only so, sir, but he believes that even the
rebels themselves will finally be saved."
" Is that so ?" inquired the President.
The members of the committee both responded,
-Yes," " Yes."
"Well, gentlemen, if that be so, and there is any way
under heaven whereby the rebels can be saved, then, for
God's sake and their sakes, let the man be appointed."
And he was appointed, and served until the war
closed. In relation to this matter the Hon. John Covode
wrote Hon. Henry D. Moore as follows :
"WASHINGTON, 2 9 th January, 1863.
" DEAR SIR : Your friend Mr. Shrigley's appointment
was sent to the Senate on the 22d inst. It gives me
pleasure to think that I have been able to aid you in
" Truly yours, JOHN COVODE.
" P. S. Believing that both you and I, after our long
public services, will be benefited by our friend's prayers,
I hope we shall have them.
338 LETTER TO MRS. GURNEY.
LETTER TO MRS. ELIZA P. GURNEY.
I HAVE not forgotten, probably never shall forget, the
very impressive occasion when yourself and friends
visited me on a Sabbath forenoon two years ago. Nor
shall your kind letter, written nearly a year later, ever be
forgotten. In all it has been your purpose to strengthen
my reliance in God. I am much indebted to the good
Christian people of the country for their constant prayers
and consolations, and to no one of them more than to
yourself. The purposes of the Almighty are perfect and
must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to ac-
curately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a
happy termination of this terrible war long before this,
but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall
yet acknowledge his wisdom and our own errors therein ;
meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best light he
gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the
great ends he ordains. Surely he intends some great
good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal
could make, and no mortal could stay. Your people,
the Friends, have had, and are having, very great trials,
on principles and faith opposed to both war and oppres-
sion, they can only practically oppose oppression by
war. In this hard dilemma, some have chosen one horn
and some the other. For those appealing to me on
conscientious grounds I have done and shall do the best
I could and can in my own conscience, under my oath to
the law. That you believe this I doubt not, and believe
I shall still receive for my country and myself your
earnest prayers to our Father in heaven.
CECIL F. P. BANCROFT- ASA GRAY.
THE greatness of the man appears not so much in
his courage, his patience, his vigilance, his
loyalty, his equanimity, his faith in God and man, as in
that instinct of timeliness which led him unerringly to seize
upon the great opportunity at its very full. In this re-
spect he stands without a peer.
PHILLIPS ACADEMY, 1880,
HE typical American, pure and simple.
340 REPLY TO A COMMITTEE.
TO A COMMITTEE OF LOYAL COLORED PEOPLE OF BALTI-
MORE, PRESENTING THE PRESIDENT WITH A BIBLE
I CAN only say now, as I have often said before, that
it has always been a sentiment with me that all mankind
should be free. So far as I have been able, or so far as
came within my sphere, I have always acted as I believed
was right and just, and have done all I could for the
good of mankind. I have in letters and documents sent
forth from this office expressed myself better than I can
now. In regard to the Great Book I have only to say
that it is the best gift which God has given man. All
the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated
to us through this book. But for this book we could not
know right from wrong. All those things desirable to
man are contained in it.
G. T. BEDELL 341
A S the best contribution which I can make, is the fol-
./jL. lowing extract from a letter by the late Rt. Rev.
Chares P. Mcllvaine, D.D., D.C.L., who knew Mr. Lin-
coln well, and was brought into official relations with him.
He mourned for him, not only as I do for a great presi-
dent, but for a personal friend.
" The man, so wise, so pure, of such simplicity, such
inflexible determination to the right, who had done so
well in duties and times beyond precedent difficult ; who
had gone on winning the confidence, admiration and love
of all classes, till there seemed no more to gain ; just fin-
ishing his great work, just about to reap the harvest of
all his toil, just showing how moderate and wise and ten-
der he was going to be, cut down by an assassin ! Oh,
how it has smitten the nation's heart !"
Responding with all my heart to such an estimate of
the character of President Lincoln.
342 REMARKS TO A NEW YORK REGIMENT.
REMARKS TO THE 189 NEW YORK REGL
, IT is said that we have the best Government thy
world ever knew, and I am glad to meet you, the sup-
porters of that Government.' To you, who rendered the
hardest work in its support, should be given the greatest
credit. Others who are connected with it, and who
occupy higher positions, their duties can be dispensed
with ; but we cannot get along without your aid. While
others differ with the Administration, and, perhaps,
honestly, the soldiers generally have sustained it ; they
have not only fought right, but, so far as could be judged
from their actions, they have voted right, and I for onu
thank you for it.
OCTOBER 24, 1864.
W. B. HAZEN.
MR. LINCOLN was one of those singular men
whom the great unknown power brings upon
the scenes of men's actions when momentous events are
about to transpire. Lincoln, more than any man ex-
cept Washington, came forward to lead successfully the
grand advance of human rights and progress, growing out
of the development of the new continent, America.
That he was all that his best admirers can claim, is abun-
dantly shown by what he did, and the judgment of the
world upon it.
344 SPEECH TO THE i6$TH OHIO.
SPEECH TO THE i6 4 TH OHIO.
THERE is more involved in this contest than is realized
by every one. There is involved in this struggle the
question whether your children and my children shall
enjoy the privileges we have enjoyed. I say this in
order to impress upon you, if you are not already so im-
pressed, that no small matter should divert you from our
great purpose. There may be some inequalities in the
practical application of our system. It is fair that each
man shall pay taxes in exact proportion to the value of
his property ; but if we should wait before collecting a
tax to adjust the taxes upon each man in exact proportion
with every other man, we should never collect any tax at
all. There may be mistakes made. Sometimes things
may be done wrong, while the officers of the Government
do all they can to prevent mistakes ; but I beg of you, as
citizens of this great republic, not to let your minds be
carried off from the great work we have before us.
The struggle is too large for you to be diverted from
it by any small matter. When you return to your
homes, rise up to the dignity of a generation of men
worthy of a free Government, and we will carry out the
work we have commenced.
JAMES FREEMAN CLARKE. 345
I ONCE had a long day's talk about Abraham Lin-
coln with a friend in Kentucky, Joshua F. Speed,
who had lived in intimate relation with Lincoln when he
was a young lawyer in Springfield, just beginning busi-
ness. He said that every case he had took his whole in-
terest and attention. Once he had to argue a case in
which all depended on finding the right boundary for a
piece of land on the prairie. There are no stones there
for boundaries, and few trees, so the surveyors were in
the habit of fixing the corners of the lots by shoveling
up' a little heap of earth. But it happened that a prairie
squirrel, or gopher, does the same thing. Hence it be-
comes important to distinguish between the mounds made
by the surveyor and those made by the gopher. Lincoln
sent to New York to get books to tell him of the habits of
the gopher, brought them into court, showed the judge
and jury how the gopher built his mound, how it differed
from that of the surveyor, and after he had won his case,
sat up late in the night still studying about the gopher,
so as to be sure he knew all about him.
346 REPLY TO A COMPANY OF CLERGYMEN.
REPLY TO A COMPANY OF CLERGYMEN.
GENTLEMEN: My hope of success in this great and
terrible struggle rests on that immutable foundation, the
justice and goodness of God. And when events are very
threatening and prospects very dark, I still hope in some
way, which man cannot see, all will be well in the end,
because our cause is just and God is on our side.
JAMES E. MURDOCH. 347
I FIRST made Mr. Lincoln's acquaintance in 1860,
while in Springfield, 111., on professional business.
We met in the studio of my friend Mr. Thomas Jones,
the sculptor, who was at that time modeling Mr. Lincoln's
bust. The circumstances were favorable to a conversa-
tion on literary subjects, and I was charmed with the
earnestness and originality exhibited in Mr. Lincoln's
remarks and criticisms. His clear insight into character-
ization was apparent in the expression of his conception
of the personalities of Falstaff and old Weller, who
seemed to be especial favorites with him. He regarded
old Weller as a sort of stage-coach embodiment or type
of the Fat Knight, the latter being a tavern reflection, as
it were, of the velvet-and-brocade or court side of wit and
humor, and the other the familiar or road-side phase or
expression of it ; but both suggestive of " the cap-and-
bells" and furnishing the materials for wholesome merri-
ment. Speaking of Dickens, he said that his works of
fiction were so near the reality that the author seemed to
him to have picked up his materials from actual life as he
elbowed his way through its crowded thoroughfares, after
the manner, in a certain sense, of Shakespeare himself.
As there was but little of the metaphysical or speculative
element in Mr. Lincoln's mind, though strong in practical
philosophy, common sense, and clear moral intuitions, it
was not difficult to understand and appreciate the pref-
erence he expressed, on this occasion, for the speech oi
King Claudius : " Oh ! my offense is rank and smells to
348 JAMES E. MURDOCH.
heaven," over Hamlet's philosophical " To be or not to
be." He expressed a wonder that actors should have
laid so much stress on the thought contained in the latter
soliloquy, and passed with such comparative indifference
over the soul-searching expressions of the king, uttered
under the stings of self-accusation. " The former," said
Mr. Lincoln, " is merely a philosophical reflection on the
question of life and death, without actual reference to a
future judgment ; while the latter is a solemn acknowl-
edgment of inevitable punishment hereafter, for the in-
fraction of divine law. Let any one reflect on the moral
tone of the two soliloquies, and there can be no mistak-
ing the force and grandeur of the lesson taught by one,
and the merely speculative consideration in the other, of
an alternative for the ills that flesh is heir to." It was
very plain how such a mind as his could not fail to be
forcibly struck with the truth and grandeur of the follow-
ing lines :
"In the corrupted currents of this world,
Offense's gilded hand may shove by justice ;
And oft 'tis seen, the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law. But 'tis not so above ;
There is no shuffling ; there the action lies
In his true nature ; and we ourselves compelled,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence."
The conversation turned upon the political condition
of the country (it was at the troubled period just previous
to Mr. Lincoln's inauguration) and he spoke upon the sub-
ject plainly and without hesitation. So deeply was I im-
pressed with his hope and faith for the future of the
JAMES E. MURDOCH. 349
country and the ultimate triumph of right and justice in
its affairs, that glowed in the fervor of his simple and un-
affected language, and beamed from his benevolent
features, that I lost sight of all the previous impressions
that his reputed story-telling proclivities and his broad
witticisms had made upon me ; I saw only the man as the
whole world learned to know him in whom the sacred
principles of eternal justice and human rights were to find
an honest and unflinching champion in the bitter hours
of trial and affliction.
I will simply add a few words in this connection
with regard to the mirthful element of Mr. Lincoln's
character. It has too frequently been misunderstood and
unjustly censured. The following anecdote furnishes us
an instance of the slight ground upon which rested many
of the charges made against Mr. Lincoln, of undignified
conduct and heartless expressions upon serious and