Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) online

. (page 17 of 41)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 17 of 41)
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Every act of the government was canvassed with eager and
unfriendly scrutiny, and made, wherever it was possible, the
ground of hostile assault.

Among the matters thus seized upon was the surrender
to the Spanish authorities of a Cuban named Arguelles,
which was referred to by the Fremont Convention as a de-
nial of the right of asylum. This man, Don Jose Augustine
Arguelles, was a colonel in the Spanish army, and Lieuten-
ant-Governor of the District of Colon, in Cuba. As such,
in November, 1863, he effected the capture of a large num-
ber of slaves that were landed within his district, and received
from the Government of Cuba praise for his efficiency, and
the sum of fifteen thousand dollars for his share of prize-
money on the capture. Shortly afterwards, he obtained
leave of absence for twenty days, for the purpose of going
to New York and there making the purchase of the Spanish
newspaper called La Cronica. He came to New York, and
there remained. In March following, the Cuban Govern-
ment made application to our authorities, through the Con-
sul-General's office at Havana, stating that it had been dis-
covered that Arguelles, with others, had been guilty of the
crime of selling one hundred and forty-one of the cargo of
negroes thus captured, into slavery, and by means of forced
papers representing to the Government that they had died


after being landed ; stating also that his return to Cuba was
necessary to procure the liberation of his hapless victims,
and desiring to know whether the Government of the United
States would cause him to be returned to Cuba. Documents
authenticating the facts of the case were forwarded to our
authorities. There being no extradition treaty between our
country and Spain, the Cuban Government could take no
proceedings before the courts in the matter, and the only
question was whether our Government would take the re-
sponsibility of arresting Arguelles and sending him back or
not. The Government determined to assume the respons-
ibility, and sent word to the Cuban authorities that if they
would send a suitable officer to New York, measures would
be taken to place Arguelles in his charge. The officer was
sent, and Arguelles having been arrested by the United
States Marshal at New York, was, before any steps could
be taken to appeal to any of the courts on his behalf, put
on board a steamer bound for Havana. This proceeding
caused great indignation until the facts were understood.
Arguelles having money, had found zealous friends in New
York, and a strong effort was made in his favor. It was
stated on his behalf that, instead of being guilty of selling
these negroes into slavery, it was the desire of the Cuban
authorities to get possession of him and silence him, lest
he should publish facts within his knowledge which impli-
cated the authorities themselves in that nefarious traffic.
And the fact that he was taken as he was, by direct order of
the Government, not by any legal or judicial proceedings,
and without having the opportunity to test before the courts
the right of the Government thus to send back any one,
however criminal, was alleged to spring from the same dis-
regard of liberty and law in which the arbitrary arrests
which had been made of rebel sympathizers were said to have
had their source. Proceedings were even taken against the
United States Marshal under a statute of the State of New
York against kidnapping, and everywhere the enemies of the
Administration found in the Arguelles case material for as-
sailing it as having trampled upon the right of asvlum, ex-
ceeding it own legal powers, insulted the laws and courts of
the land, and endangered the liberties of the citizen; while
the fact of its having aided in the punishment of an atrocious


crime, a crime intimately connected with the slave-trade, so
abhorrent to the sympathies of the people, was kept out of

Another incident used to feed the public distrust of the
Administration, was the temporary suppression of two Dem-
ocratic newspapers in the city of New York. On Wednes-
day, May 1 8th, these two papers, the World and the Journal
of Commerce, published what purported to be a proclama-
tion of President Lincoln. At this time, as will be recol-
lected, General Grant /was still struggling with Lee before
Spottsylvania, with terrible slaughter and doubtful prospects,
while Sigel had been driven back by Imboden, and Butler
was held in check by Beauregard. This proclamation an-
nounced to the country that General Grant's campaign was
virtually closed; and, "in view of the situation in Virginia,
the disaster at Red River, the delay at Charleston, and the
general state of the country/' it appointed the 26th of May
as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, and ordered a
fresh draft of four hundred thousand men. The morning of
its publication was the day of the departure of the mails for
Europe. Before its character was discovered, this forged
proclamation, telegraphed all over the country, had raised
the price of gold five or six per cent., and carried discourage-
ment and dismay to the popular heart. The suppression of
the papers by which it had been published, the emphatic de-
nial of its authenticity, and the prompt adoption of measures
to detect its author, speedily reassured the public mind. Af-
ter being satisfied that the publication of the document was
inadvertent, the journals seized were permitted to resume
publication, the authors of the forgery were sent to Fort
Lafayette, and public affairs resumed their ordinary course.

But the action of the Government gave fresh stimulus to
the partisan warfare upon it. As in the Arguelles case and
the arbitrary arrests it had been charged with trampling upon
the liberties of the citizen, so now it was charged with at-
tacking the liberty of the press. Governor Seymour di-
rected the District Attorney of New York to take measures
for the prosecution and punishment of all who had been
connected with shutting up the newspaper offices. The mat-
ter was brought before a grand-jury, which reported that it
was "inexpedient to examine into the subject."


Determined not to be thus thwarted, Governor Seymour,
alleging that the grand-jury had disregarded their oaths, di-
rected the District Attorney to bring the subject before
some magistrate. Warrants were accordingly issued by City
Judge Russell for the arrest of General Dix and the officers
who had acted in the matter. The parties voluntarily ap-
peared before the judge, and an argument of the legal ques-
tions involved was had. The judge determined to hold Gen-
eral Dix and the rest for the action of the grand-jury. One
grand-jury, however, had already refused to meddle with the
matter, and, greatly to the disappointment of those who had
aimed to place the State of New York in a position of open
hostility to the Government of the United States, no further
proceedings were ever taken in the matter.

An effort was made to bring the subject up in Congress.
Among other propositions, Mr. Brooks, of New York, pro-
posed to add, as an amendment to a bill for the incorpora-
tion of a Newsboys' Home in the District of Columbia, a
provision that no newspaper should be suppressed in Wash-
ington, or its editor incarcerated, without due process of
law. He succeeded in making a speech abounding in de-
nunciations of the Government, but had no other success.

To those men at the North who really sympathized with
the South on the slavery question, the whole policy of the
Administration upon that subject was distasteful. The
Emancipation Proclamation, the repeal of the Fugitive Slave
Law, and even the employment of negroes in the army,
were with them grave causes of complaint against it. The
President's views on this matter were expressed in the fol-
lowing conversational remarks, to some prominent Western
gentlemen : —

The slightest knowledge of arithmetic (said he) will prove to any
man that the rebel armies cannot be destroyed by Democratic strat-
egy. It would sacrifice all the white men of the North to do it.
There are now in the service of the United States nearly two hun-
dred thousand able-bodied colored men, most of them under arms,
defending and acquiring Union territory. The Democratic strategy
demands that these forces be disbanded, and that the masters be
conciliated by restoring them to slavery. The black men who now
assist Union prisoners to escape are to be converted into our ene-
mies, in the vain hope of gaining the good-will of their masters. We
shall have to fight two nations instead of one

You cannot conciliate the South if you guarantee to them ultimate


success, and the experience of the present war proves their success
is inevitable if you fling the compulsory labor of four millions of
black men into their side of the scale. Will you give our enemies
such military advantages as insure success, and then depend upon
coaxing, flattery, and concession to get them back into the Union?
Abandon all the forts now garrisoned by black men, take two hun-
dred thousand men from our side, and put them in the battle-field,
or cornfield, against us, and we would be compelled to abandon the
war in three weeks.

We have to hold territory in inclement and sickly places. Where
are the Democrats to do this? It was a free fight, and the field was
open to the War Democrats to put down this rebellion by fighting
against both master and slave long before the present policy was
inaugurated. There have been men base enough to propose to me
to return to slavery our 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 abolition. So long
as I am President it shall be carried on for the sole purpose of re-
storing the Union. But no human power can subdue this rebellion
without the use of the emancipation policy, and every other policy
calculated to weaken the moral and physical forces of the rebellion.

Freedom has given us two hundred thousand men, raised on South-
ern soil. It will give us more yet. Just so much it has abstracted
from the enemy; and instead of checking the South, there are evi-
dences of a fraternal feeling growing up between our men and the
rank and file of the rebel soldiers. Let my enemies prove to the
country that the destruction of slavery is not necessary to the restora-
tion of the Union. I will abide the issue.

Aside from the special causes of attack which we have
mentioned, others were brought forward more general in
their character. The burdens of the war were made especially
prominent. Every thing discouraging was harped upon and
magnified, every advantage was belittled and sneered at. The
call for five hundred thousand men in June was even depre-
cated by the friends of the Administration, because of the
political capital which its enemies would be sure to make of
it. Nor was Mr. Lincoln himself unaware that such would
be the result, but, though recognizing the elements of dis-
satisfaction which it carried with it, he did not suffer himself
to be turned aside in the least from the path which duty to
his country required him to pursue. The men were needed,
he said, and must be had, and should he fail as a candidate
for re-election in consequence of doing his duty to the coun-
try, he would have at least the satisfaction of going down
with colors flying.


Financial difficulties were also used in the same way. The
gradual rise in the price of gold was pointed at as indicating
the approach of that financial ruin which was surely awaiting
the country, if the re-election of Mr. Lincoln should mark
the determination of the people to pursue the course upon
which they had entered.

Amidst these assaults from his opponents, Mr. Lincoln
seemed fairly entitled, at least, to the hearty support of all
the members of his own party. And yet this very time was
chosen by Senator Wade, of Ohio, and H. Winter Davis, of
Maryland, to make a violent attack upon him for the course
which he had pursued in reference to the Reconstruction
Bill, which he had not signed, but had given his reasons for
not signing, in his proclamation of July 18th. They charged
him with usurpation, with presuming upon the forbearance
of his supporters, with defeating the will of the people by
an Executive perversion of the Constitution, &c, &c, and
closed a long and violent attack by saying that if he wished
their support he "must confine himself to his Executive du-
ties — to obey and execute, not make the laws — to suppress
by arms armed rebellion, and leave political reorganization
to Congress."

This manifesto, prepared with marked ability, and skilfully
adapted to the purpose it was intended to serve, at first cre-
ated some slight apprehension among the supporters of the
President. But it was very soon felt that it met with no
response from the popular heart, and it only served to give
a momentary buoyancy to the hopes of the Opposition.

Still another incident soon occurred to excite a consider-
able degree of public anxiety concerning the immediate polit-
ical future. It was universally understood that a strong de-
sire for peace pervaded the public mind, and that the deter-
mination to prosecute the war was the dictate of duty, rather
than inclination. To such an extent did this longing for
peace influence the sentiments and action of some, among
the least resolute and hopeful of the political leaders in the
Republican party, that ready access to them was found by
agents of the Rebel Government, stationed in Canada for
such active service as circumstances might require. Of
these agents, who were then at Niagara Falls, were C. C.
Clay, formerly United States Senator from Alabama, Profes-


sor Holcombe, of Virginia, and George N. Sanders. Acting
on their behalf and under their instructions, W. Cornell
Jewett, an irresponsible and half-insane adventurer, had put
himself in communication with Hon. Horace Greeley, Editor
of the New York Tribune, whose intense eagerness for peace
had already commended him to the admiration and sym-
pathy of the emissaries of the Rebel Government. In reply
to some letter which had been addressed to him, but which
has not yet been made public, Jewett wrote on the 5th of
July to Mr. Greeley the following letter :

Niagara Falls, July 5, 1864.

My Dear Mr. Greeley: — In reply to your note, I have to advise
having iust left Hon. George N. Sanders, of Kentucky on the Canada
side. I am authorized to state to you, for our use only, not the pub-
lic, that two ambassadors of Davis & Co. are now in Canada, with
full and complete powers for a peace, and Mr. Sanders requests that
you come on immediately to me, at Cataract House, to have a private
interview, or if you will send the President's protection for him and
two friends, they will come on and meet you. He says the whole
matter can be consummated by me, you, them, and President Lin-
coln. Telegraph me in such form that I may know if you come here,
or they to come on with me.

Yours, W. C. Jewett.

The next day Mr. Jewett also telegraphed as follows : —

H. Greeley, Tribune :

Will you come here? Parties have full power. Wrote you yester-
day. Jewett.

This letter and telegram Mr. Greeley enclosed to the
President, at Washington, accompanied by the following
letter :

New York, July 7, 1864.

My Dear Sir: — I venture to enclose you a letter and telegraphic
dispatch that I received yesterday from our irrepressible friend, Colo-
rado Jewett, at Niagara Falls. I think they deserve attention. Of
course I do not indorse Jewett's positive averment that his friends
at the Falls have "full powers" from J. D., though I do not doubt
that he thinks they have. I let that statement stand as simply evi-
dencing the anxiety of the Confederates everywhere for peace. So!
much is beyond doubt.

And therefore I venture to remind you that our bleeding, bankrupt,
almost dying country also longs for peace — shudders at the prospect
of fresh conscriptions, of further wholesale devastations, and of new
rivers of human blood; and a wide-spread conviction that the Gov-
ernment and its prominent supporters are not anxious for peace, and


do not improve proffered opportunities to achieve it, is doing great
harm now, and is morally certain, unless removed, to do far greater
in the approaching elections.

It is not enough that we anxiously desire a true and lasting peace;
we ought to demonstrate and establish the truth beyond cavil. The
fact that A. H. Stephens was not permitted a year ago to visit and
confer with the authorities at Washington has done harm, which the
tone at the late National Convention at Baltimore is not calculated
to counteract.

I entreat you, in your own time and manner, to submit overtures
for pacification to the Southern insurgents, which the impartial must
pronounce frank and generous. If only with a view to the moment-
ous election soon to occur in North Carolina, and of the draft to be
enforced in the Free States, this should be done at once. I would
give the safe-conduct required by the rebel envoys at Niagara, upon
their parole to avoid observation and to refrain from all communi-
cation with their sympathizers in the loyal States; but you may see
reasons for declining it. But whether through them or otherwise, do
not, I entreat you, fail to make the Southern people comprehend that
you, and all of us, are anxious for peace, and prepared to grant lib-
eral terms. I venture to suggest the following


1. The Union is restored and declared perpetual.

2. Slavery is utterly and forever abolished throughout the same.

3. A complete amnesty for all political offences, with a restoration
of all the inhabitants of each State to all the privileges of citizens of
the United States.

4. The Union to pay four hundred million dollars ($400,000,000) in
five per cent. United States stock to the late Slave States, loyal and
secession alike, to be apportioned pro rata, according to their slave
population respectively, by the census of i860, in compensation for
the losses of their loyal citizens by the abolition of slavery. Each
State to be entitled to its quota upon the ratification by its legislature
of this adjustment. The bonds to be at the absolute disposal of the
legislature aforesaid.

5. The said Slave States to be entitled henceforth to representation
in the House on the basis of their total, instead of their federal popu-
lation, the whole now being free.

6. A national convention, to be assembled so soon as may be, to
ratify this adjustment, and make such changes in the Constitution as
may be deemed advisable.

Mr. President, I fear you do not realize how intently the people
desire any peace consistent with the national integrity and honor,
and how joyously they would hail its achievement, and bless its
authors. With United States stocks worth but forty cents in gold
per dollar, and drafting about to commence on the third million of
Union soldiers, can this be wondered at?

I do not say that a just peace is now attainable, though I believe it
to be so. But I do say that a frank offer by you to the insurgents
of terms which the impartial say ought to be accepted will, at the


worst, prove an immense and sorely needed advantage to the national
cause. It may save us from a Northern insurrection.

Yours truly, Horace Greeley.

Hon. A. Lincoln, President, Washington, D. C.

P. S. — Even though it should be deemed unadvisable to make at
offer of terms to the rebels, I insist that, in any possible case, it is
desirable that any offer they may be disposed to make should be re-
ceived, and either accepted or rejected. I beg you to invite those
now at Niagara to exhibit their credentials and submit their ulti-
matum. H. G.

To this letter the President sent the following answer : —

Washington, D. C., July 9, 1864.
Hon. Horace Greeley:

Dear Sir: — Your letter of the 7th, with enclosures, received. I
you can find any person anywhere professing to have any proposition
of Jefferson Davis, in writing, for peace, embracing the restoration
of the Union and abandonment of slavery, whatever else it embraces,
say to him he may come to me with you, and that if he really brings
such proposition, he shall, at the least, have safe-conduct with the
paper (and without publicity if he chooses) to the point where you
shall have met him. The same if there be two or more persons.

Yours truly, A. Lincoln.

Mr. Greeley answered this letter as follows : —

Office of the Tribune, New York, July 10, 1864.

My Dear Sir: — I have yours of yesterday. Whether there be per-
sons at Niagara (or elsewhere) who are empowered to commit the
rebels by negotiation, is a queston; but if there be such, there is no
question at all that they would decline to exhibit their credentials to
me, much more to open their budget and give me their best terms.
Green as I may be, I am not quite so verdant as to imagine anything
of the sort. I have neither purpose nor desire to be made a confi-
dant, far less an agent, in such negotiations. But I do deeply realize
that the rebel chiefs achieved a most decided advantage in proposing
or pretending to propose to have A. H. Stephens visit Washington as
a peacemaker, and being rudely repulsed; and I am anxious that the
ground lost to the national cause by that mistake shall somehow be
regained in season for effect on the approaching North Carolina elec-
tion. I will see if I can get a look into the hand of whomsoever may
be at Niagara; though that is a project so manifestly hopeless that I
have little heart for it, still I shall try.

Meantime I wish you would consider the propriety of somehow
apprising the people of the South, especially those of North Carolina,
that no overture or advance looking to peace and reunion has ever
been -repelled by you, but that such a one would at any time have
been cordially received and favorably regarded, and would still be.

Yours, Horace GreeleIy,

Hon. A. Lincoln.


This letter failed to reach the President until after the fol-
lowing one was received, and was never, therefore, specific-
ally answered.

Three days after the above letter, Mr. Greeley, having re-
ceived additional information from some quarter, wrote to
the President again as follows :

Office of the Tribune, New York, July 13, 1864.

My Dear Sir : — I have now information on which I can rely that
two persons duly commissioned and empowered to negotiate for
peace are at this moment not far from Niagara Falls, in Canada, and
are desirous of conferring with yourself, or with such persons as you
may appoint and empower to treat with them. Their names (only
given in confidence) are Hon. Clement C. Clay, of Alabama, and
Hon. Jacob Thompson, of Mississippi. If you should prefer to meet
them in person, they require safe-conducts for themselves, and for
George N. Sanders, who will accompany them. Should you choose
to empower one or more persons to treat with them in Canada, they
will of course need no safe-conduct; but they cannot be expected to
exhibit credentials save to commissioners empowered as they are.
In negotiating directly with yourself, all grounds of cavil would be
avoided, and you would be enabled at all times to act upon the fresh-
est advices of the military situation. You will of course understand
that I know nothing and have proposed nothing as to terms, and
that nothing is conceded or taken for granted by the meeting of
persons empowered to negotiate for peace. All that is assumed is a
mutual desire to terminate this wholesale slaughter, if a basis of ad-
justment can be mutually agreed on, and it seems to me high time
that an effort to this end should be made. I am of course quite
other than sanguine that a peace can now be made, but I am quite
sure that a frank, earnest, anxious effort to terminate the war on
honorable terms would immensely strengthen the Government in
case of its failure, and would help us in the eyes of the civilized world,
which now accuses us of obstinacy, and indisposition even to seek a
peaceful solution of our sanguinary, devastating conflict. Hoping to

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 17 of 41)