Francis Fisher Browne.

The Every-day Life of Abraham Lincoln A Narrative And Descriptive Biography With Pen-Pictures And Personal Recollections By Those Who Knew Him online

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from the throngs assembled at the railway stations in the various cities
through which he passed. At Indianapolis, where the first important halt
was made, cannon announced the arrival of the party, and a royal welcome
was accorded the distinguished traveler. In this, as in the other cities
at which he stopped, Lincoln made a brief address to the people. His
remarks were well considered and temperate; his manner was serious, his
expressions thoughtful and full of feeling. He entreated the people to
be calm and patient; to stand by the principles of liberty inwrought
into the fabric of the Constitution; to have faith in the strength and
reality of the Government, and faith in his purpose to discharge his
duties honestly and impartially. He referred continually to his trust in
the Almighty Ruler of the Universe to guide the nation safely out of its
present peril and perplexity. "I judge," he said at Columbus, "that all
we want is time and patience, and a reliance in that God who has never
forsaken His people." Again, he said: "Let the people on both sides keep
their self-possession, and just as other clouds have cleared away in due
time, so will this; and this great nation shall continue to prosper as
heretofore." Alluding more definitely to his purposes for the future, he
declared: "I shall do all that may be in my power to promote a peaceful
settlement of all our difficulties. The man does not live who is more
devoted to peace than I am - none who would do more to preserve it. _But
it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly_."

At the conclusion of Lincoln's speech at Columbus, a tremendous crowd
surged forward to shake his hand. Says Dr. Holland: "Every man in the
crowd was anxious to wrench the hand of Abraham Lincoln. He finally gave
both hands to the work, with great good nature. To quote one of the
reports of the occasion: 'People plunged at his arms with frantic
enthusiasm, and all the infinite variety of shakes, from the wild and
irrepressible pump-handle movement to the dead grip, was executed upon
the devoted _dexter_ and _sinister_ of the President. Some glanced at
his face as they grasped his hand; others invoked the blessings of
heaven upon him; others affectionately gave him their last gasping
assurance of devotion; others, bewildered and furious, with hats crushed
over their eyes, seized his hands in a convulsive grasp, and passed on
as if they had not the remotest idea who, what, or where they were.' The
President at last escaped, and took refuge in the Governor's residence,
although he held a levee at the State House in the evening, where in a
more quiet way he met many prominent citizens."

At Cincinnati, where Lincoln had had so distasteful an experience a few
years before, a magnificent ovation greeted him. The scene is described
by one who witnessed it - Hon. William Henry Smith, at that time a
resident of Cincinnati. "It was on the 13th of February that Mr. Lincoln
reached the Queen City. The day was mild for mid-winter, but the sky was
overcast with clouds, emblematic of the gloom that filled the hearts of
the unnumbered thousands who thronged the streets and covered the
house-tops. Lincoln rode in an open carriage, standing erect with
uncovered head, and steadying himself by holding on to a board fastened
to the front part of the vehicle. A more uncomfortable ride than this,
over the bouldered streets of Cincinnati, cannot well be imagined.
Perhaps a journey over the broken roads of Eastern Russia, in a
tarantass, would secure to the traveler as great a degree of discomfort.
Mr. Lincoln bore it with characteristic patience. His face was very sad,
but he seemed to take a deep interest in everything. It was not without
due consideration that the President-elect touched on the border of a
slave State on his way to the capital. In his speech in reply to the
Mayor of Cincinnati, recognizing the fact that among his auditors were
thousands of Kentuckians, he addressed them directly, calling them
'Friends,' 'Brethren.' He reminded them that when speaking in Fifth
Street Market square in 1859 he had promised that when the Republicans
came into power they would treat the Southern or slave-holding people as
Washington, Jefferson, and Madison treated them; that they would
interfere with their institutions in no way, but abide by all and every
compromise of the Constitution, and 'recognize and bear in mind always
that you have as good hearts in your bosoms as other people, or as we
claim to have, and treat you accordingly.' Then, to emphasize this, he
said - in a passage omitted by Mr. Raymond and all other biographers of
Lincoln -

And now, fellow-citizens of Ohio, have you who agree in political
sentiment with him who now addresses you ever entertained other
sentiments towards our brethren of Kentucky than those I have
expressed to you? [_Loud and repeated cries of 'No!' 'No!'_] If
not, then why shall we not, as heretofore, be recognized and
acknowledged as brethren again, living in peace and harmony, one
with another? [_Cries of 'We will!'_] I take your response as the
most reliable evidence that it may be so, along with other
evidence, trusting to the good sense of the American people, on all
sides of all rivers in America, under the Providence of God, who
has never deserted us, that we shall again be brethren, forgetting
all parties - ignoring all parties.

"This statesmanlike expression of conservative opinion," continues Mr.
Smith, "alarmed some of the Republicans, who feared that the new
President might sell out his party; and steps were taken, later in the
day, to remind him of certain principles deemed fundamental by those who
had been attracted to the party of Freedom. The sequel will show how
this was done, and how successfully Mr. Lincoln met the unexpected
attack. In the evening I called, with other citizens, at Mr. Lincoln's
rooms at the Burnet House to pay my respects. Mr. Lincoln had put off
the melancholy mood that appeared to control him during the day, and was
entertaining those present with genial, even lively, conversation. The
pleasant entertainment was interrupted by the announcement that a
delegation of German workingmen were about to serenade Mr. Lincoln.
Proceeding to the balcony, there were seen the faces of nearly two
thousand of the substantial German citizens who had voted for Mr.
Lincoln because they believed him to be a stout champion of free labor
and free homesteads. The remarks of their spokesman, Frederick
Oberkleine, set forth in clear terms what they expected. He said:

We, the German free workingmen of Cincinnati, avail ourselves of
this opportunity to assure you, our chosen Chief Magistrate, of our
sincere and heartfelt regard. You earned our votes as the champion
of Free Labor and Free Homesteads. Our vanquished opponents have,
in recent times, made frequent use of the terms "Workingmen" and
"Workingmen's Meetings," in order to create an impression that the
mass of workingmen were _in favor of compromises between the
interests of free labor and slave labor, by which the victory just
won would be turned into a defeat_. This is a despicable device of
dishonest men. _We spurn such compromises. We firmly adhere to the
principles which directed our votes in your favor. We trust that
you, the self-reliant because self-made man, will uphold the
Constitution and the laws against secret treachery and avowed
treason_. If to this end you should be in need of men, the German
free workingmen, with others, will rise as one man at your call,
ready to risk their lives in the effort to maintain the victory
already won by freedom over slavery.

"This was bringing the rugged issue boldly to the front, and challenging
the President-elect to meet the issue or risk the loss of the support of
an important section of his own party. Oberkleine spoke with great
effect, but the remarks were hardly his own. Some abler man had put into
his mouth these significant words. Mr. Lincoln replied, very
deliberately, but without hesitation, as follows:

MR. CHAIRMAN: - I thank you, and those you represent, for the
compliment paid me by the tender of this address. In so far as
there is an allusion to our present national difficulty, and the
suggestion of the views of the gentlemen who present this address,
I beg you will excuse me from entering particularly upon it. I deem
it due to myself and the whole country, in the present
extraordinary condition of the country and of public opinion, that
I should wait and see the last development of public opinion before
I give my views or express myself at the time of the inauguration.
I hope at that time to be false to nothing you have been taught to
expect of me. [_Cheers_.]

I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, and with the address of your
constituents, in the declaration that workingmen are the basis of
all governments. That remark is due to them more than to any other
class, for the reason that there are more of them than of any other
class. And as your address is presented to me not only on behalf of
workingmen, but especially of Germans, I may say a word as to
classes. I hold that the value of life is to improve one's
condition. Whatever is calculated to advance the condition of the
honest, struggling laboring man, so far as my judgment will enable
me to judge of a correct thing, I am for that thing.

An allusion has been made to the Homestead Law. I think it worthy
of consideration, and that the wild lands of the country should be
distributed so that every man should have the means and opportunity
of benefiting his condition. [_Cheers_.] I have said that I do not
desire to enter into details, nor will I.

In regard to Germans and foreigners, I esteem foreigners no better
than other people - nor any worse. [_Laughter and cheers_.] They are
all of the great family of men, and if there is one shackle upon
any of them it would be far better to lift the load from them than
to pile additional loads upon them. [_Cheers_.] And inasmuch as the
continent of America is comparatively a new country, and the other
countries of the world are old countries, there is more room here,
comparatively speaking, than there is elsewhere; and if they can
better their condition by leaving their old homes, there is nothing
in my heart to forbid them coming, and I bid them all God speed.
[_Cheers_.] Again, gentlemen, thanking you for your address, I bid
you good night.

"If anyone," says Mr. Smith, "had expected to trap Mr. Lincoln into
imprudent utterances, or the indulgence of the rhetoric of a demagogue,
this admirable reply showed how completely they were disappointed. The
preservation of this speech is due to my accidental presence. The
visitation of the Germans was not on the programme, and none of the
representatives of the press charged with the duty of reporting the
events of the day were present. Observing this, I took short-hand notes
on the envelope of an old letter loaned me for the occasion, and
afterwards wrote them out. The words of Mr. Lincoln, exactly as spoken,
are given above."

At Cleveland the party remained over for a day, and Lincoln was greeted
with the usual friendly enthusiasm. An immense crowd met him at the
depot, and he was escorted to the Weddell House, where a reception was
given him in the evening. Hon. A.G. Riddle, then a resident of
Cleveland, and a newly elected member of the Congress which was to share
with Lincoln the burdens and responsibilities of the Civil War, was
present on that occasion, and furnishes the following interesting
personal recollections of it: "I saw Abraham Lincoln for the first time,
at the Weddell House that evening. He stood on the landing-place at the
top of a broad stairway, and the crowd approached him from below. This
gave him an exaggerated advantage of his six feet four inches of length.
The shapelessness of the lathy form, the shock of coarse black hair
surmounting the large head, the retreating forehead - these were not
apparent where we stood. My heart sprang up to him - the coming man. Of
the thousand times I afterward saw him, the first view remains the most
distinct impression; and never again to me was he more imposing. As we
approached, someone whispered of me to him; he took my hand in both his
for an instant, and we wheeled into the already crowded rooms. His
manner was strongly Western; his speech and pronunciation Southwestern.
Wholly without self-consciousness with men, he was constrained and ill
at ease when surrounded, as he several times was, by fashionably dressed
ladies. One incident of the evening I particularly recall. Ab McElrath
was in the crowd - a handsome giant, an Apollo in youth, of about Mr.
Lincoln's height. What brought it about, I do not know; but I saw them
standing back to back, in a contest of altitude - Mr. Lincoln and Ab
McElrath - the President-elect, the chosen, the nation's leader in the
thick-coming darkness, and the tavern-keeper and fox-hunter. The crowd
applauded.

"Mr. Lincoln presented me to the gentlemen of his party - Mr. Browning,
Mr. Judd, and Mr. Lamon, I remember, as I later became very well
acquainted with them; also the rough-looking Colonel Sumner of the army.
Mr. Lincoln invited me to accompany him for at least a day on his
eastward journey. I joined him the next morning at the station. The
vivacity of the night before had utterly vanished, and the rudely
sculptured cliffy face struck me as one of the saddest I had ever seen.
The eyes especially had a depth of melancholy which I had never seen in
human eyes before. Some things he wished to know from me, especially
regarding Mr. Chase, whom, among others, he had called to Springfield.
He asked me no direct questions, but I very soon found myself speaking
freely to him, and was able to explain some not well-known features of
Ohio politics - and much to his satisfaction, as he let me see. There was
then some talk of Mr. Seward, and more of Senator Cameron. All three had
been his rivals at Chicago, and were, as I then thought, in his mind as
possible Cabinet ministers; although no word was said by him of such an
idea in reference to either. Presently he conducted me to Mrs. Lincoln,
whom I had not before seen. Presenting me, he returned to the gentlemen
of the party, and I saw little more of him except once when he returned
to us, before I left the train. Mrs. Lincoln impressed me very
favorably, as a woman of spirit, intelligence, and decided opinions,
which she put very clearly. Our conversation was mainly of her husband.
I remarked that all the likenesses I had ever seen of him did him
injustice. This evidently pleased her. I suggested that a full beard
from the under lip down (his face was shaven) would relieve and help him
very much. This interested her, and we discussed it and the character
of his face quite fully. The impression I then formed of this most
unfortunate lady was only deepened by the pleasant acquaintance she
permitted, down to the time of the national calamity, which unsettled
her mind as I always thought."

Of the New York City visit, an excellent account is given by the
distinguished preacher and writer, Dr. S. Irenæus Prime. "The country
was at that moment," says Dr. Prime, "in the first throes of the great
rebellion. Millions of hearts were beating anxiously in view of the
advent to power of this untried man. Had he been called of God to the
throne of power at such a time as this, to be the leader and deliverer
of the people? As the carriage in which he sat passed slowly by me on
the Fifth avenue, he was looking weary, sad, feeble, and faint. My
disappointment was excessive; so great, indeed, as to be almost
overwhelming. He did not look to me to be the man for the hour. The next
day I was with him and others in the Governor's room in the City Hall,
when the Mayor of the city made an official address. Mr. Lincoln's reply
was so modest, firm, patriotic, and pertinent, that my fears of the day
before began to subside, and I saw in this new man a promise of great
things to come. It was not boldness or dash, or high-sounding pledges;
nor did he while in office, with the mighty armies of a roused nation at
his command, ever assume to be more than he promised in that little
upper chamber in New York, on his journey to the seat of Government, to
take the helm of the ship of state then tossing in the storm."

Before the end of the journey, strong fears prevailed in the minds of
Lincoln's friends that an attempt would be made to assassinate him
before he should reach Washington. Every precaution was taken to thwart
such endeavor; although Lincoln himself was disturbed by no thought of
danger. He had done, he contemplated doing, no wrong, no injustice to
any citizen of the United States; why then should there be a desire to
strike him down? Thus he reasoned; and he was free from any dread of
personal peril. But the officials of the railroads over which he was to
pass, and his friends in Washington, felt that there was cause for
apprehension. It was believed by them that a plot existed for making
away with Lincoln while passing through Baltimore, a city in the heart
of a slave State, and rife with the spirit of rebellion. Detectives had
been employed to discover the facts in the matter, and their reports
served to confirm the most alarming conjectures. A messenger was
despatched from Washington to intercept the Presidential party and warn
Lincoln of the impending danger. Dr. Holland states that "the detective
and Mr. Lincoln reached Philadelphia nearly at the same time, and there
the former submitted to a few of the President's friends the information
he had secured. An interview between Mr. Lincoln and the detective was
immediately arranged, and took place in the apartments of the former at
the Continental Hotel. Mr. Lincoln, having heard the officer's statement
in detail, then informed him that he had promised to raise the American
flag on Independence Hall the following morning - the anniversary of
Washington's birthday - and that he had accepted an invitation to a
reception by the Pennsylvania Legislature in the afternoon of the same
day. 'Both of these engagements I will keep,' said Mr. Lincoln, '_if it
costs me my life_.' For the rest, he authorized the detective to make
such arrangements as he thought proper for his safe conduct to
Washington."

In the meantime, according to Dr. Holland, General Scott and Senator
Seward, both of whom were in Washington, learned from independent
sources that Lincoln's life was in danger, and concurred in sending Mr.
Frederick W. Seward to Philadelphia to urge upon him the necessity of
proceeding immediately to Washington in a quiet way. The messenger
arrived late on Thursday night, after Lincoln had retired, and requested
an audience. Lincoln's fears had already been aroused, and he was
cautious, of course, in the matter of receiving a stranger. But
satisfied that the messenger was indeed the son of Mr. Seward, he
received him. Nothing needed to be done except to inform him of the plan
entered into with the detective, by which the President was to arrive in
Washington early on Saturday morning, in advance of his family and
party.

On the morning of the 22d, Lincoln, as he had promised, attended the
flag-raising at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the historic building
in which had been adopted the Declaration of Independence. The occasion
was a memorable one, and Lincoln's address eloquent and impressive. "All
the political sentiments I entertain," said he, "have been drawn from
the sentiments which were given to the world from this hall." He spoke
calmly but firmly of his resolve to stand by the principles of the
immortal Declaration and of the Constitution of his country; and, as
though conscious of the dangers of his position, he added solemnly: "I
have said nothing but what I am willing to live by, _and, if it be the
pleasure of Almighty God, to die by_."

From Philadelphia Lincoln went immediately to Harrisburg, and attended
the reception given him by the Pennsylvania Legislature, in the
afternoon of the same day. Then, leaving his hotel in the evening,
attended only by Mr. Lamon and the detective (Mr. Allan Pinkerton), he
was driven to the depot, where he took the regular train for Washington.
The train passed through Baltimore in the night, and early the next
morning (February 23) reached the capital. Mr. Washburne, who had been
notified to be at the depot on the arrival of the train, says: "I
planted myself behind one of the great pillars in the old Washington and
Baltimore depot, where I could see and not be observed. Presently, the
train came rumbling in on time. When it came to a stop I watched with
fear and trembling to see the passengers descend. I saw every car
emptied, and there was no Mr. Lincoln. I was well-nigh in despair, and
when about to leave I saw three persons slowly emerge from the last
sleeping-car. I could not mistake the long, lank form of Mr. Lincoln,
and my heart bounded with joy and gratitude. He had on a soft
low-crowned hat, a muffler around his neck, and a short overcoat. Anyone
who knew him at that time could not have failed to recognize him at
once; but I must confess he looked more like a well-to-do farmer from
one of the back towns of Jo Daviess County, coming to Washington to see
the city, take out his land warrant and get the patent for his farm,
than the President of the United States. The only persons that
accompanied Mr. Lincoln were Pinkerton, the well-known detective, and
Ward H. Lamon. When they were fairly on the platform, and a short
distance from the car, I stepped forward and accosted the President:
'How are you, Lincoln?' At this unexpected and rather familiar
salutation the gentlemen were apparently somewhat startled; but Mr.
Lincoln, who had recognized me, relieved them at once by remarking in
his peculiar voice: 'This is only Washburne!' Then we all exchanged
congratulations, and walked out to the front of the depot, where I had a
carriage in waiting. Entering the carriage (all four of us), we drove
rapidly to Willard's Hotel, entering on Fourteenth Street, before it was
fairly daylight."

General Stone, who was in command at Washington at that time, states
that both General Scott and himself "considered it almost a certainty
that Mr. Lincoln could not pass through Baltimore alive on the day
fixed," and adds: "I recommended that Mr. Lincoln should be officially
warned; and suggested that it would be best that he should take the
train that evening from Philadelphia, and so reach Washington early the
next day. General Scott directed me to see Mr. Seward, to whom he wrote
a few lines, which he handed me. I did not succeed in finding Mr. Seward
until past noon. I handed him the General's note. He listened
attentively to what I said, and asked me to write down my information
and suggestions. Then, taking the paper I had written, he hastily left.
The note I wrote was what Mr. Frederick Seward carried to Mr. Lincoln in
Philadelphia. Mr. Lincoln has stated that it was _this note_ which
induced him to change his journey as he did. _The stories of disguises
are all nonsense_. Mr. Lincoln merely took the sleeping-car in the night
train."

There is little doubt that the fears of Lincoln's friends regarding his
passage through Baltimore were well grounded; and that but for the
timely warnings and precautions the assassination of April, 1865, might
have taken place in February of 1861.




CHAPTER XV


Lincoln at the Helm - First Days in Washington - Meeting Public Men
and Discussing Public Affairs - The Inauguration - The Inaugural
Address - A New Era Begun - Lincoln in the White House - The First
Cabinet - The President and the Office-seekers - Southern Prejudice
against Lincoln - Ominous Portents, but Lincoln not Dismayed - The
President's Reception Room - Varied Impressions of the New
President - Guarding the White House.

The week following Lincoln's arrival in Washington, and preceding his
inauguration, was for him one of incessant activity. From almost the
first moment he was engrossed either in preparations for his
inauguration and the official responsibilities which would immediately
follow that event, or in receiving the distinguished callers who
hastened to meet him and in discussing with them the grave aspects of



Online LibraryFrancis Fisher BrowneThe Every-day Life of Abraham Lincoln A Narrative And Descriptive Biography With Pen-Pictures And Personal Recollections By Those Who Knew Him → online text (page 23 of 51)