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letter in which he explained the necessity for freeing
the slaves and employing them as soldiers. " Peace,"
he wrote, " does not appear so distant as it did. I
hope it will come soon, and come to stay ; and so come
as to be worth the keeping in all future time. It will
then have been proved that among freemen there can
be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet,
and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose
their case and pay the cost. And then there will be
some black men who can remember that with silent
tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-
poised bayonet, they have helped mankind on to this
great consummation, whUe I fear there will be some
white ones unable to forget that with malignant heart
and deceitful speech they strove to hinder it."

On July 4, 1863, the tide of war began to turn.
The Union armies under General Grant, with the
help of Farragut and Porter and their boats, cap-
tured Vicksburg and opened the Mississippi, sepa^
rating Louisiana and Arkansas and Texas from the
Confederacy, and Lincoln announced, " The Father of
Waters again goes unvexed to the sea." On the
same day, at Gettysburg, in southern Pennsylvania,
General Lee and his army, who had marched into
the North, were turned back toward Richmond. The


free States never again echoed the tread of hostile

At the battle of Gettysburg, which lasted for three
days, there had been killed, wounded, or missing over
forty-three thousand men, the Union losses being greater
than the Confederate. The battle-ground where the
soldiers had been buried, almost as they fell, was set
apart at once as a national cemetery. On November
19, 1863, the dedication took place. Edward Everett
delivered the oration. To Abraham Lincoln an invita-
tion had been given to " set apart these grounds to
their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks." The
President came by train the day before. The speech
was half written, and in his bedroom at Gettysburg he
wrote the rest in pencil. A hundred thousand people
had assembled in the cemetery, toward which in the
morning the great procession moved slowly forward.
Lincoln rode his horse with a dignity befitting the
commander-in-chief of the nation's army. Mr. Ever-
ett's address held the audience profoundly attentive
from noon until two o'clock. A hymn was then sung
whose spirit is expressed in the final stanza : —

" We trust, O God, Thy gracious power
To aid us iu our darkest hour.
This be our prayer, — Father, save
A people's freedom from its grave.
All praise to Thee ! "

As the last words of the hymn, sung by a Baltimore
chorus of a hundred voices, died away, Lincoln stepped
forth with the sheets containing the little speech in
his left hand. He spoke slowly, in a voice that, like the
notes of a bugle, reached the farthest borders of the
crowd. There was tenderness in the words : " The brave
men, living and dead, who struggled here, have conse-


crated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note nor long remember what we
say here, but it can never forget what they did here."
As he continued, " It is for us, the living, rather to
be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they
who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced,"
it was plain that the people to whose loyalty he had
always trusted would prove faithful to the cause for
which the honored dead had given " the last full mea-
sure of devotion."

The next summer peace seemed farther away than
ever. The battle-line crept once more dangerously near
to free territory. Impatient men, weary of Lincoln's
caution, began to look about for some one for Presi-
dent who would drive the armies unprepared to their
destruction, while others, weary of the daily record
of disaster, were in search of a candidate who would
consent to a peace that meant disunion.

A mass convention of all the dissatisfied Union men
was held at Cleveland, Ohio, to denounce the Presi-
dent's "imbecile policy in the conduct of the war,"
and nominate John C. Fremont to succeed him. In-
stead of being a representative gathering of thousands
of loyal citizens, it brought together only a few disap-
pointed politicians and personal enemies of Mr. Lin-
coln. To the President came a report of the affair as
he sat with a group of friends at the White House.
" How many people were at the meeting ? " he asked.
" About four hundred," was the answer. He reached
for the Bible that lay on his desk, and, turning to the
first book of Samuel and the twenty-second chapter,
read aloud : " And every one that was in distress, and
every one that was in debt, and every one that was dis-
contented, gathered themselves unto him ; and he be-


came a captain over them : and there were with him
about four hundred men."

The Republicans made no nomination in 1864, but
the Union party, as it called itself, met at Baltimore
and nominated Abraham Lincoln for President and
Andrew Johnson of Tennessee for Vice-President.
Many of the Democrats supported the Union ticket.
The others nominated George B. McClellan for Pre-

In the fall, as the campaign went on, the Union
began to win victories by sea and by land. Admiral
Farragut captured Mobile, and Sherman took Atlanta.
The effect on the campaign was stimulating. To use
Lincoln's homely words, the people became convinced
that " it would not do to swap horses while they were
crossing the stream," and by a tremendous vote — 212
to 21 — reelected Abraham Lincoln. He was serenaded,
the night after the election, and in his response said :
"The rebellion continues, and now that the election is
over, may not all having a common interest reunite in
a common effort to save our common country ? For my
own part, I have striven and shall strive to avoid plac-
ing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been
here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man's
bosom. While I am deeply sensible to the high com-
pliment of a reelection, and duly grateful, as I trust, to
Almighty God for having directed my countrymen
to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good,
it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man
may be disappointed or pained by the result."



The reelection of Lincoln proved that the only way
to peace, to a peace that would "come to stay " and be
" worth the keeping in all future time," was to fight it
out. To the Confederate army it gave the courage of
despair, a courage that enabled brave men to die for a
cause already lost ; to the Union soldiers it gave a con-
fidence that made success secure. It was plain that the
armies under Lee in Virginia and under Johnston in
the Carolinas were struggling to put off the inevitable
end. The opening of the Mississippi River, in 1863,
had cut the South in two and put the Western States
out of the contest. From the Tennessee River, General
Sherman had fought his bloody way into the heart
of Georgia and was now leading his victorious army
" from Atlanta to the sea," thus separating the Gulf
States from what was left of the Confederacy. Mean-
while Grant was driving Lee, inch by inch, by " the
road of death," back from the Potomac and into the
devastated South. The Confederacy was at bay. The
end was in sight.

On March 4, 1865, standing where, four years be-
fore, he had sworn " to preserve, protect, and defend
the Constitution," President Lincoln was inaugurated
a second time. The four years of war had wrought
great changes in the people and in the man. No mili-
tary escort was needed this time to bring him to the
Capitol, for he was now among friends. With little
Tad beside him, he drove rapidly from the White House


to the ceremony. In the parade and in the audience,
for the first time in American history, a multitude of
negroes, soldiers and civilians whom he had set free,
were gathered to do him honor. The President, hag-
gard and worn, stood before the people. He was sad-
dened by his own cares and borne down by the burden
of the nation's grief. He might have said, as Henry
Ward Beecher did, " I am surrounded by those who
are sorrowing almost unto death."

As he arose, a deep silence fell upon the people. It
was as if a prophet of the elder day were speaking
the word of inspiration to the nation that his faith had
saved. The sky had been overcast, but suddenly a
burst of sunshine brought the giant figure into a glare
of light, thrilling the speaker and giving to the people,
as he thought, an omen of the triumph that was so
near at hand.

" The Almighty has his own purposes," he declared.
" ' Woe unto 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 shall suppose that
American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the
providence 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 war, as the woe due to those by whom the
offense came, shall we discern therein any departure
from those divine attributes which the believers in a
living God always ascribed 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 righteous 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 lasting peace among ourselves, and with all

The change that the years of war had made in the
President was noted by every one. " When I last saw
him," Horace Greeley tells us, " I was struck by his
haggard, care-fraught face, so different from the sunny,
gladsome countenance he first brought from Illinois.
I felt that his life hung by so slender a thread that
any new access of trouble or excess of effort might
suddenly close his career. . . . ' The sunset of life ' was
plainly looking out of his kindly eyes and gleaming
from his weather-beaten visage."

The weeks that followed brought no httle happiness
to the President. The Thirteenth Amendment passed
Congress and was in a fair way to become a part o£
the Constitution. By it liberty was given to the slaves
in the loyal States, as, by the President's Emancipa-
tion Proclamation, liberty had already been given to
the slaves within Confederate territory. The President
took every opportunity to help in the adoption of this

Late in March he took Tad with him to City Point
in Virginia, where, as General Grant's guest, he could
watch the movement of the armies. The last days of


the struggle were no holiday for the tender-hearted
President. As the news came, from hour to hour, of
Lee's retreat and of the capture of Confederate pris-
oners by thousands, he sent messages of joy to Wash-
ington, while the reports of men wounded and men
killed on either side deepened the lines of sadness in
his face. He knew that, as in surgery, the most mer-
ciful way to peace was to bring it quickly by sharp and
decisive action. So when General Sheridan reported
that, if the thing were pressed, he thought General Lee
would surrender, he set himself grimly to the inevitable
and telegraphed to Grant, " Let the thing be pressed."

During the President's stay at City Point, Jefferson
Davis and the Confederate officials gathered their
papers together, left Richmond by night, and sought
safety farther south. As they left, followed by all who
were able to crowd into the railway coaches, some one
set fire to the city, making the place even more deso-
late than war had made it. Lee had only a few more
days to fight and the end was at hand.

Without military protection Lincoln led little Tad
by the hand into the abandoned capital of the dying
Confederacy. No triumphal entry like this is told in
history. The negroes, free at last by his hand and by
the ratification of war, crowded about him as he walked
through their midst. Many proclaimed him " the great
Messiah," and falling to the ground before him, tried
to kiss his feet. It was a strange experience to this
simple-minded man. " Don't kneel to me," he said.
" That is not right. You must kneel to God only, and
thank Him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy."
But from their tender gratitude he was unable to
escape. Barefooted, in the garb of slavery, they pur-
sued him eagerly, singing hymns of worship in which


" Massa Lincoln " bore quite as great a part as did
the Lord of Hosts. Finally, he made them a speech:
" My poor friends, you are free — free as air. Liberty
is your birthright. But you must try to deserve it.
. . . Learn the laws and obey them ; obey God's
commandments and thank Him for giving you liberty,
for to Him you owe all things."

An accident to Secretary Seward called Lincoln to
Washington earlier than he had wished. On Saturday,
the 8 th of April, he left City Point by boat, by way of
the Potomac, for Washington. Confident that within
a few hours the surrender of General Lee would bring
the peace for which he had so long prayed, he was able
for a time to forget the cares of state as he read aloud
from the tragedy of Macbeth.

Many were now beginning to abandon the Confed-
erate cause. In Richmond, during the President's brief
stay, a movement had been started, with his help, for
the withdrawal of the Virginia troops from the Con-
federate army and the repeal of Virginia's ordinance
of secession. But it came to nothing.

The prospect of an immediate end to the war brought
the President and Congress face to face with the grav-
est political questions the country has ever had to solve.
How should the Union be restored ? Should Jefferson
Davis and his associates be arrested and punished for
treason, or should they be received into citizenship, to
take part again in the administration of a government
they had sought to destroy ? Should the policy toward
the leaders in the rebellion be one of revenge, of pun-
ishment, or of pardon ? Northern sentiment was di-
vided. In the bitterness of spirit to which the war and
its losses had given birth, many found it hard to forgive
the men who, by the attack on Fort Sumter, had plunged


the country into war. Many, too, found fault with Presi-
dent Lincoln because he felt that the South had suf-
fered enough, and that the victors in the awful strug-
gle should yield to the command of Scripture, " Judge
not, that ye be not judged." Some of the bitter parti-
sans in the North, including Vice-President Andrew
Johnson, were opposing any settlement with the de-
feated Confederates which would permit the pardon of
their leaders and the restoration to the States of their
political rights as a part of the restored Union. The
President was not one of these. For the prostrate South
he had no word of bitterness. He was a stranger to

As he had exposed himself day after day to dangers
of all sorts, the fear for his safety increased. When he
was approaching Washington Mrs. Lincoln said to him,
" The city is filled with our enemies." But Lincoln ex-
claimed, " Enemies ! We must never speak of that ! "
The President was a constant visitor to the hospitals
where the wounded from both armies were being cared
for by the women of the North. On one of these visits
an attendant tried to turn him aside by saying, " Those
patients are rebels." But he answered gently, "Not
rebels, — Confederates."

Peace came at last. On Sunday, the 9th of April,
General Lee surrendered at Appomattox, and with the
help of Grant, whose generosity in victory had won the
admiration of the South, and of Lincoln, whose sym-
pathy for the South in its distress had won the hearts
of many of his former enemies, he was now ready to
" bind up the nation's wounds."

When the news from Appomattox reached Wash-
ington, the cabinet was in session at the White House.
At Lincoln's bidding they all knelt in silent prayer.


Outside, men, women, and children thronged the pub-
lic places. For the first time the voice of the cannon
proclaimed good will to men. Bands played in all the
streets. From Sunday until Friday the celebration
continued. In the South, the boys in gray, no longer
soldiers, were glad that with the return of peace they
could go back to the hard work for which they were
already eager and to the homes where, among those
they loved, they could recount the story of their strug-
gle to uphold a hopeless cause.

After the flight from Richmond, Jefferson Davis
and his high officials had become fugitives. Advice
was sought of President Lincoln regarding their cap-
ture and punishment. He did not seem interested. He
merely told a story and suggested that if only it could
be managed so that these persons could escape " unbe-
knownst" to him, it would save a lot of trouble.

In the White House grounds on Tuesday evening, by
a common impulse, the happy crowds gathered, eager
for a speech from the President. They loved to listen
to him, and they wanted to hear what he would say
about the South. As the war drew near its close, he
had been seeking a plan that would secure forever the
results of the war, freedom and union, and, at the same
time, bring about the fulfillment of the hope he had
expressed at his first inauguration, that " the mystic
chords of memory stretching from every battlefield and
patriot grave would yet swell the chorus of the Union."
The time had indeed come to " bind up the nation's
wounds." To Abraham Lincoln this meant above all
else generosity toward a defeated enemy. He stood at
the open window while he made plain to the crowd his
plan for restoring the old relations between the States,
upon terms that no enemy of the South would have


dreamed of offering. As the bands played patriotic
airs, the President called for " Dixie," explaining to
the people that the Attorney-General had looked into
the question and had decided that " Dixie " was now
a national air by right of conquest.

On Thursday night he had a strange dream that had
come to him just before each of the great victories of
the war. He dreamed that he was in a mysterious ves-
sel, drifting silently, rapidly, toward an unknown shore.
He told the dream to his cabinet ministers and to
General Grant the next morning, assuring them as he
told it that they would soon have news of the sur-
render of Johnston's army, the only remnant of the
Confederate forces still in arms.

The arrival of General Grant at Washington aroused
popular enthusiasm to its highest pitch, and brought
thousands to the city to see the great commander for
the first time. It was arranged and advertised that, on
Friday evening. Grant was to go with the President
and occupy a box at Ford's Theatre. The city was
full of strangers, many of them still hostile to the
Union. The intensity of the war feeling led the
authorities to fear for the safety of Grant and Lincoln,
if they should appear in public together. At the
last moment Grant declined the invitation. The Presi-
dent did not want to go, but was loath to disap-
point the people. With Mrs. Lincoln and two guests
he entered the State Box at Ford's Theatre at about
nine o'clock. For a moment the play was stopped. The
audience rose to its feet, cheering and waving hats and
handkerchiefs and flags, while the orchestra played
« Hail to the Chief."

The evening wore on. The tired President, happy
to forget his anxieties for an hour, became absorbed in


the play. Presently a young man slipped noiselessly
into the President's box, held a pistol to Lincoln's
head, and fired. An instant later, the assassin leaped to
the stage and disappeared. All night long it rained
dismally. The startled nation dumbly waited for the
news that came in the early morning. In a forlorn little
room into which he had been carried from the theatre,
Abraham Lincoln lay dead.

In the camps of the Union armies and throughout
the North on that Saturday morning, the joy that
peace had brought was turned to grief. Every home
in the North was widowed, and even the little children
cried in their sorrow. It was as if one might say, as
was said in the midnight of Egypt's sorrow, " There
was not a house where there was not one dead."

Of a great ruler who gave up his life for his people,
three centuries ago, it was said as we may say of
Abraham Lincoln : " He went through life bearing the
load of a people's sorrows upon his shoulders, with a
smiling face. . . . While he lived he was the guiding
star of a whole brave nation ; and when he died the
little children cried in the streets."


O Captain ! my Captain ! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting.
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring ;
But O heart ! heart ! heart !

O the bleeding drops of red.
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


O Captain ! my Captain ! rise up and hear the bells ;

Rise up — for you the flag is flung — for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths — for you the shores

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning ;
Here Captain ! dear father !

This arm beneath your head !

It is some dream that on the deck

You 've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will.
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won :
Exult O shores, and ring O bells !

But I with mournful tread.
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Walt Whitman.

U . S . A

li 1009. OS^. 0^89^



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Online LibraryCharles W. (Charles Washington) MooresThe life of Abraham Lincoln for boys and girls (Volume c.5) → online text (page 9 of 9)