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 21 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 21 of 41)
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for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.

The premonitory symptoms of the result of the Presiden-
tial contest were seen in the State elections by which it was

In September Vermont led off with a largely increased
Union majority, and Maine followed her a week after, show-
ing also a proportionate increase in the majority with which
that State had sustained the Administration.

But the October elections in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsyl-
vania indicated yet more clearly what was to be the result
in November. The two former States gave heavy majorities
for the Union ticket on the home vote. In fact, in Indiana
the soldiers were not allowed to vote at all. Governor Mor-
ton, who was a candidate for re-election, had made a splen-
did canvass, speaking with great effect all over the State.
One matter which doubtless aided him materially, was the
discovery of a plot on the part of leading members of the
Democratic party in the Northwest to raise a revolt in that
section of the country, to release the rebel prisoners, and by
arming them, to make a powerful diversion in favor of the
rebels. The election following close upon this exposure, In-
diana re-elected Governor Morton by a large majority, in
spite of the absence of many of her loyal sons in the field.

In Pennsylvania the result upon the home vote was close,
but with the soldiers' votes the Union ticket carried the State
by about twelve thousand majority.

A victory was won, also, in Maryland for freedom, by the
adoption, though by a close vote, of the new Free State Con-
stitution. The heavy majorities in its favor, which were
given by Baltimore and the more loyal sections of the State,
were overborne by the votes of the southern and western
counties, but the votes of the soldiers were almost unanimous
in favor of the Constitution, and Maryland took her place as
a State whose freedom was insured.

Mr. Lincoln took great interest in the success of the Con-


stitution. The following is a letter which he wrote to a meet-
ing of its friends in Baltimore, before the election : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, October 18.

Hon. Henry W. Hoffman :

My Dear Sir: — A convention of Maryland has formed a new Con-
stitution for the State; a public meeting is called for this evening, at
Baltimore, to aid in securing its ratification, and you ask a word
from me for the occasion. I presume the only feature of the instru-
ment about which there is serious controversy, is that which provides
for the extinction of slavery.

It needs not to be a secret, and I presume it is no secret, that I
wish success to this provision. I wish it on every considera-
tion. I wish to see all men free. I wish the national prosperity of
the already free, which I feel sure the extinction of slavery would
bring. I wish to see in progress of disappearing that only thing
which could bring this nation to civil war. I attempt no argument.
Argument upon the question is already exhausted by the abler, bet-
ter informed and more immediately interested sons of Maryland her-
self. I only add, that I shall be gratified exceedingly if the good
people of the State shall by their votes ratify the new Constitution.
Yours truly, A. Lincoln.

After the result of the election was known, the President
made the following speech at a serenade given to him by the
loyal Marylanders, in honor of the adoption of the Constitu-
tion : —

Friends and Fellow- Citizens : — I am notified that this is a compli-
ment paid me by the loyal Marylanders resident in this District. X
infer that the adoption of the new Constitution for the State fur-
nishes the occasion, and that in your view the extirpation of slavery
constitutes the chief merit of the new Constitution. Most heartily do
I congratulate you, and Maryland, and the nation, and the world,
upon this event. I regret that it did not occur two years sooner,
which, I am sure, would have saved the nation more money than
would have met all the private loss incident to the measure; but it
has come at last, and I sincerely hope its friends may fully realize all
their anticipations of good from it, and that its opponents may by its
effects be agreeably and profitably disappointed.

A word upon another subject. Something said by the Secretary
of State in his recent speech at Auburn, has been construed by some
into a threat, that if I shall be beaten at the election, I will, between
then and the end of my constitutional term, do what I may be able
to ruin the Government.

Others regard the fact that the Chicago Convention adjourned, not
sine die, but to meet again, if called to do so by a particular individual,
as the intimation of a purpose that if their nominee shall be elected
he will at once seize control of the Government. I hope the good
people will permit themselves to suffer no uneasiness on either point,


I am struggling to maintain the Government, not to overthrow it.
I am struggling especially to prevent others from overthrowing it. I
therefore say that if I live, I shall remain President until the 4th of
next March, and that whoever shall be constitutionally elected, in
November, shall be duly installed as President on the 4th of March,
and in the interval I shall do my utmost that whoever is to hold the
helm for the next voyage shall start with the best possible chance of
saving the ship. This is due to the people, both on principle and
under the Constitution. Their will, constitutionally expressed, is the
ultimate law for all. If they should deliberately resolve to have im-
mediate peace, even at the loss of their country and their liberties,
I know not the power or the right to resist them. It is their own
business, and they must do as they please with their own. I believe,
however, they are still resolved to preserve their country and their
liberties; and in this, in office or out of it, I am resolved to stand
by them. I may add, that in this purpose to save the country and its
liberties, no classes of people seem so nearly unanimous as the sol-
diers in the field and the sailors afloat. Do they not have the hardest
of it? Who should quail while they do not? God bless the soldiers
and seamen, with all their brave commanders.

The latter part of this speech was called forth by a current
misrepresentation of a speech made by Secretary Seward at
Auburn, on the 5th of September. The Secretary had alluded
to the declaration of the Chicago Convention in favor of an
immediate cessation of hostilities, and the inevitable ten-
dency of the success of the ticket nominated upon that plat-
form to paralyze the efforts of the Government to put down
the rebellion by force of arms; and he asked, if such a thing
should happen, "who could vouch for the safety of the coun-
try against the rebels, during the interval which must elapse
before the new Administration can constitutionally come into
power?" This was distorted into a threat that if the Demo-
cratic candidate should be elected, the Administration would
take means to retain by usurpation the power which should
of right be handed over to him. And the charge was repeated
so persistently, that the President at length felt called upon
to notice it as he did.

The result of the October elections had practically deter-
mined the result in November. But, as the time drew near,
the atmosphere seemed full of turbulent and threatening ele-
ments. Loud and angry charges of fraud in the October
elections were made by the Opposition, but were not sus-
tained; and they were succeeded by yet louder charges from
the other side of an attempted fraud in the soldiers' ^otes^f
the State of New York, which were followed up by proof.


Some of the Democratic agents were convicted of these at-
tempted frauds, and, after trial and conviction by a military
commission, they were sentenced to a heavy imprisonment.

The rebels used all means in their poVer to aid the party
from whose success they anticipated so much, advantage.
Hood's movement, it was hoped, would have a political in-
fluence upon the election; and Early's advance was spoken of
in Southern journals as a means of assisting the counting of
the ballots in Pennsylvania. Along the Northern border,
too> the rebel agents, sent thither on "detached service" by
the Rebel Government, were active in movements intended
to terrify and harass the people. On the 19th of October, a
party of them made a raid into St. Albans, Vermont, robbing
the banks there, and making their escape across the lines into
Canada with their plunder, having killed one of the citizens
in their attack. Pursuit was made, and several of the ma-
rauders were arrested in Canada. Proceedings were com-
menced to procure their extradition, which were not, how-
ever, brought to a close before the election. The Govern-
ment received information that this affair was but one of a
projected series, and that similar attempts would be made
all along the frontier. More than this, there were threats,
followed by actual attempts, to set fire to the principal North-
ern cities, and there were not wanting some signs of an in-
clination to renew the scenes of the riots of the year before.

A very grave sensation was produced by the publication
of a report of Judge Advocate-General Holt, giving conclu-
sive proof of the existence of an organized secret association
at the North, controlled by prominent men in the Democratic
party, whose objects were the overthrow, by revolution, of
the Administration, in the interest of the rebellion. Some of
the leaders were arrested and tried. The Democratic presses
had sneered at the whole affair as one which was got up by
the Government for political effect. But when one of their
leaders, being on parole as he was being tried, ran away
rather than meet the result, people began to be sensible of
the danger they had escaped.

So rife were threats of a revolution at the North, and
especially in New York City, if Mr. Lincoln were re-elected,
that the Government * sent a body of veterans from the Army
of the James, under General Butler, to that city for purposes


of precaution. But, fortunately, in New York, as everywhere
else, so quiet an election was never known, nor was there
ever one more utterly free from complaints of fraud. Cer-
tainly, none so decisive was* ever held in the country. Of
all the States which voted on that day, General McClellan
carried but three — New Jersey, Delaware, and Kentucky —
while Mr. Lincoln received the votes of all the New England
States, of New York and Pennsylvania, of all the Western
States, of West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkan-
sas, and of the new State of Nevada, which was, on the 31st
of October, admitted into the Union by the following procla-
mation : —

Whereas, The Congress of the United States passed an act, which
was approved on the 21st day of March last, entitled, "An Act to
enable the People of Nevada to form a Constitution and State Gov-
ernment," and for the admission of such State into the Union on an
equal footing with the original States; and

Whereas, The said Constitution and State Government have been
formed pursuant to the condition prescribed by the fifth section of the
act of Congress aforesafd, and the certificate required by the said act,
and also a copy of the Constitution, and ordinances have been submit-
ted to the President of the United States:

Now, therefore, be it known, that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of
the United States, in accordance with the duty imposed upon me by
the act of Congress aforesaid, do hereby declare and proclaim that
the said State of Nevada is admitted into the Union on an equal foot-
ing with the original States.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the
seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirty-first day of October,
in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and
[l. s.] sixty-four, and of the independence of the United States the

(Signed) Abraham Lincoln.

By the President:

Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State.

The vote at that election was very large everywhere, and
Mr. Lincoln received a popular majority of over four hun-
dred thousand votes — a larger majority than was ever re-
ceived by any other President.

The feeling which was uppermost in the President's heart
at the result of the election was joy over its effects upon the
cause. He expressed this sentiment in some remarks which
he made, when serenaded by a club of Pennsylvanians, at a


late hour on the night of the election. His speech was as fol-
lows: —

Friends and Fellow- Citizens : — Even before I had been # informed
by you that this compliment was paid to me by loyal citizens of
Pennsylvania, friendly to me, I had inferred that you were that por-
tion of my countrymen who think that the best interests of the
nation are to be subserved by the support of the present Administra-
tion. I do not pretend to say that you who think so embrace all the
patriotism and loyalty of the country. But I do believe, and I trust
without personal interest, that the welfare of the country does require,
that such support and indorsement be given. I earnestly believe that
the consequence of this day's work, if it be as you assure me, and as
now seems probable, will be to the lasting advantage, if not to the
very salvation of the country. I cannot at this hour say what has
been the result of the election; but whatever it may have been, I
have no desire to modify this opinion, that all who have labored to-
day in behalf of the Union organization have wrought for the best
interests of their country and the world, not only for the present, but
for all future ages. I am thankful to God for this approval of the
people. But, while deeply grateful for this mark of their confidence
in me, if I know my heart, my gratitude is free from any taint of per-
sonal triumph. I do not impugn the motives of any one opposed to
me. It is no pleasure to me to triumph over any one, but I give
thanks to the Almighty for this evidence of the people's resolution
to stand by free government and the rights of humanity.

The telegraph brought certain news of the result within a
few hours. On the night of November ioth, the various Lin-
coln and Johnson Clubs of the District went to the White
House to serenade the President, to whom he spoke as fol-
lows : —

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 emergencies. On this point the pres-
ent rebellion brought our Government to a severe test, and a Presi-
dential election occurring in a regular course during the rebellion,
added not a little to the train.
If the loyal people united were put to the utmost of their strength
i by the rebellion, must they not fall when divided and partially par-
alyzed by a political war among themselves? But the election was a
necessity. We cannot have free government without elections; and
if the^ rebellion could force us to forego or postpone a national elec-
tion, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.
The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to
the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case must ever
recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any fu-
ture great national trial, compared with the men of this, we will 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 wis-
dom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.


But the election, along with its incidental and undesirable strife,
has done good, too. It has demonstrated that a people's government
can sustain a national election in the midst of a great civil war.
Until now, it has not been known to the world that this was a possi-
bility. It shows, also, how sound and how strong we still are. It
shows that even among the candidates of the same party, he who is
most devoted to the Union and most opposed to treason can receive
most of the people's votes. It shows, also, to the extent yet known,
that we have more men now than we had when the war began.
Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, and patriotic men are
better than gold.

But the rebellion continues, and, now that the election is over, may
not all have a common interest to reunite in a common effort to
save our common country? For my own part, I have striven and
shall strive to avoid placing 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 duly sensible to the high compliment of a re-
election, and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God, for having
directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their
good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be
disappointed 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? And now, let me close by
asking three hearty cheers for our brave soldiers and seamen, and
their gallant and skilful commanders.

But though the President rejoiced over the result mainly
because of its public bearing on the welfare of the country,
he was by no means insensible to the personal confidence in
himself which it exhibited. This feeling he expressed in a
speech which he made to the State Committee of Maryland,
who waited on him to congratulate him upon the trust.

The Chairman had remarked that they felt under deep obli-
gations to him because, by the exercise of rare discretion on
his part, Maryland to-day occupied the proud position of a
free State.

The President said that he would not attempt to conceal his grati-
fication with the result of the election. He had exercised his best
judgment for the good of the whole country, and to have the seal
of approbation placed upon his course was exceedingly grateful to
his feelings.

Believing the policy he had pursued was the best and the only
one which could save the country, he repeated what he had said be-
fore, that he indulged in no feeling of triumph over any one who i
had thought or acted differently from himself. He had no such
feeling towards any living man. He thought the adoption of a Free
State Constitution for Maryland was "a big thing," and a victory
for right and worth a great deal more than the part of Maryland in


the Presidential election, although of the latter he thought well. In
conclusion, he repeated what he had said before: namely, that those
who differed from and opposed us, will yet see that defeat was better
for their own good than if they had been successful.

This same sense of personal gratitude found expression in
the following letter which he wrote to Deacon John Phillips,
of Stourbridge, Massachusetts, who, though a hundred and
four years old, attended the polls to cast his vote for Mr.
Lincoln : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, November 21, 1864.

My Dear Sir : — I have heard of the incident at the polls in your
town, in which you acted so honorable a part, and I take the liberty
of writing to you to express my personal gratitude for the compli-
ment paid me by the suffrage of a citizen so venerable.

The example of such devotion to civic duties in one whose days
have already been extended an average lifetime beyond the Psalmist's
limit, cannot but be valuable and fruitful. It is not for myself only,
but for the country which you have in your sphere served so long
and so well, that I thank you. Your friend and servant,

Abraham Lincoln.

Deacon John Phillips.

We publish here, as it was written on the same day, the fol-
lowing graceful letter addressed by the President to Mrs.
Bixby, a resident of Boston, who had lost five sons in the
war, and whose sixth was lying severely wounded at the time
in the hospital: —

Executive Mansion, Washington, November 21, 1864.

Dear Madam : — I have been shown in the files of the War Depart-
ment a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you
are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of
battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine
which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so over-
whelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the conso-
lation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to
save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of
your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the
loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid
so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

Abraham Lincoln.

To Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Massachusetts.

This letter, addressed to one conspicuous among the thou-
sands who had laid "costly sacrifices upon the altar of Free-
dom," touched the hearts of all, and strengthened the feelings
of love which the great body of the people were coming to


cherish for the man whom Providence had made their ruler.
Prominent among the sentiments which ruled the heart
and life of Mr. Lincoln, was that reverential sense of depend-
ence upon an Almighty Providence, which finds strong ex-
pression in the following letter which he addressed to Mrs.
Eliza P. Gurney, an American lady resident in London, and
wife of a wealthy Quaker banker of that city : —

My Esteemed Friend: — 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 had your kind letter,
written nearly a year later, ever been 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 prayer
and consolation, 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 accurately 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 ac-
knowledge His wisdom and our own errors therein. Meanwhile we
must work earnestly in the best lights 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 principle and faith opposed to both war and oppression,
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 believing it, I shall still
receive for our country and myself your earnest prayers to our Father
in Heaven.

Your sincere friend, A. Lincoln.

This sense of religious reliance upon Providence, evident
in all his acts, as well as in his expressions, and a feeling of
the integrity and purity of purpose which pervaded all his
acts, had won for Mr. Lincoln the cordial support of the
various Christian churches of the country, and he had good
reason, therefore, for thus expressing his indebtedness to the
"Christian people of the land for their constant prayer and
consolation." Though not a member of any church or sect,
he never neglected a proper occasion for declaring his faith
in those great principles on which all Christian churches and
sects are built.

When a committee of colored men from Baltimore came to


him to present him an elegant copy of the Bible, he made the
following brief speech in answer to their address: —

I can only say now, as I have often said before, it has always been
a sentiment with me, that all mankind should be free. So far as I
have been able, so far as came within my sphere, I have always acted
as I believed was just and right, and done all I could for the good
of mankind. I have, in letters sent forth from this office, expressed
myself better than I can now.

In regard to the great Book, I have only to say it is the best gift

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 21 of 41)