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 24 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 24 of 41)
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as were in custody or under constraint. It is still so open to all;
but the time may come, probably will come, when public duty shall
demand that it be closed, and that in lieu more vigorous measures
than heretofore shall be adopted.

In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the national
authority on the part of the insurgents as the only indespensable
condition to ending the war on the part of the Government, I retract
nothing heretofore said as to slavery. I repeat the declaration made
a year ago, that while I remain in my present position I shall not


attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclamation. Nor
shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that
proclamation or by any of the acts of Congress.

If the people should, by whatever mode or means, make it an ex-
ecutive duty to re-enslave such persons, another, and not I, must
be their instrument to perform it.

In stating a single condition of peace, I mean simply to say, that
the war will cease on the part of the Government whenever it shall
have ceased on the part of those who began it.

(Signed) Abraham Lincoln.

But little business of importance was transacted in Con-
gress before the holidays. The question of the admission of
senators and representatives from Louisiana made its appear-
ance at once, but the credentials of the applicants for admis-
sion were referred to appropriate committees, and no other
action was taken on them.

On the 1 2th of December the House passed a resolution
requesting the President to give notice of the intention of
the Government to terminate the Reciprocity Treaty between
this country and Canada. A resolution to the same effect,
but differing in words, was reported in the Senate by Mr.
Sumner, but no action was taken on it until Congress reas-
sembled after the holidays.

We may mention also the attack made upon the Adminis-
tration by Mr. H. Winter Davis, on the 15th of December,
for its course in relation to Mexico, by offering, as Chairman
of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the following resolu-
tion : —

Resolved, That Congress has a constitutional right to an authorita-
tive voice in declaring and prescribing the foreign policy of the
United States, as well in the recognition of new powers as in other
matters, and it is the constitutional duty of the President to respect
that policy, not less in diplomatic relations than in the use of the
national forces when authorized by law, and the propriety of any
declaration of foreign policy by Congress is sufficiently proved by the
vote which pronounces it; and such proposition, while pending and
undetermined, is not a fit topic of diplomatic explanation with any
foreign power.

The House laid the resolution on the table by a vote of
sixty-nine to sixty-three, whereupon Mr. Davis requested to
be excused from further service on the Committee on For-
eign Affairs; his request was granted accordingly.

Five days later, however, Mr. Davis renewed the attack,


offering the same resolution, and this time with better suc-
cess. The first branch of the resolution was adopted by a
vote of one hundred and eighteen to eight, and the second by
a vote of sixty-eight to fifty-eight. No further action was
taken by Congress in the matter, nor was it ever publicly
referred to by the President.

Congress adjourned on the 23d of December for the holi-
days. The Presidential reception on New Year's day was
the occasion of a remarkable spectacle for Washington, in
the appearance of the colored people at the White House.
They waited around the doors till the crowd of white visitors
diminished, when they made bold to enter the hall. Some of
them were richly dressed, while others wore the garb of pov-
erty; but alike intent on seeing the man who had set their
nation free, they pressed forward, though with hesitation,
into the presence of the President. Says an eye-witness —

For nearly two hours Mr. Lincoln had been shaking the hands of
the "sovereigns," and had become excessively weary, and his grasp
became languid; but here his nerves rallied at the unwonted sight,
and he welcomed this motley crowd with a heartiness that made them
wild with exceeding joy. They laughed and wept, and wept and
Laughed, exclaiming, through their blinding tears, "God bless you!"
"God bless Abraham Lincoln!" "God bless Massa Linkum!"

The proceedings pending before the Canadian court, when
Congress met, for the extradition of the St. Albans raiders,
were brought to an unexpected termination on the 13th of
December, by the decision of Mr. Justice Coursol, by whom
the case was heard, discharging the accused from custody on
the alleged ground of want of jurisdiction. Not only were
these men thus discharged, but the money which they had
stolen from the banks was given up to them, under circum-
stances which cast great suspicion upon prominent mem-
bers of the Canadian Government. The result caused the
most intense indignation throughout the States. General
Dix, commanding the Eastern Department, immediately is-
sued an order referring to it, and directing all military com-
manders on the frontiers, in case of any future raids, to shoot
down the perpetrators; "or, if it be necessary, with a view,
to their capture, to cross the boundary between the United
States and Canada, said commanders are hereby directed to
pursue them wherever they may find refuge, and if captured,
they are under no circumstances to be surrendered," &c, &c.


This part of the order was, however, at once disapproved b}
the Administration, and General Dix accordingly modified hia
order so as to require that, before crossing the frontier, mili-
tary commanders should report to him for orders.

The prompt action of the Canadian Government, which at
once caused the re-arrest of such of the raiders as had not
made their escape, and gave a cordial assistance to the new
proceedings which were begun with a view to their extradu
tion, tended somewhat to allay public feeling. But it was
deemed advisable to take some measures of precaution along
the frontier, and accordingly on the 17th of December an
order was issued that no person should be allowed to entet
the United States from a foreign country without a passport,
except immigrants coming directly in by sea. This order was,
made with especial reference to those coming into the United
States from the British Provinces, and the people of Canada
were excessively indignant at it, but found no remedy.

Military affairs during this month made good progress.
The call which had been made in July for five hundred thou-
sand men, although it produced a good number of recruits,
so that military operations had not suffered for lack of re-
enforcements, yet had been in great measure filled by giving
credits for men already put into the army or the navy. Ac-
cordingly, on the 19th of December, the President issued the
following proclamation calling for two hundred thousand
more men : —


Whereas, by the act approved July 4, 1864, entitled "An act fur-
ther to regulate and provide for the enrolling and calling out of the
national forces and for other purposes,'* it is provided that the Presi-
dent of the United States may, at his discretion, at any time here-
after, call for any number of men as volunteers for the respective
terms of one, two, or three years of military service; and that in
case the quota or anv part thereof of any town, township, ward of a
city, precinct, or election district, or of a county not so subdivided,
shall not be filled within the space of fifty days after such call, the
President shall immediately order a draft for one year to fill such
quota, or any part thereof which may be unfilled; and whereas by the
credits allowed in accordance with act of Congress on the call for
five hundred thousand men made July 18, 1864, the number of men
to be obtained was reduced to two hundred and eighty thousand; and
whereas the operations of the enemy in certain States have rendered
it impracticable to procure from them their full quotas of troops un-
der said call; and whereas, from the foregoing causes, but two hun-


dred and fifty thousand men have been put into the army, navy, and
marine corps under the said call of July 18, 1864, leaving a deficiency
under the said call of two hundred and sixty thousand: Now, there-
fore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America,
in order to supply the aforesaid deficiency, and to provide for casual-
ties in the military and naval service of the United States, do issue
this my call for three hundred thousand volunteers, to serve for one,
two, or three years.

The quotas of the States, districts, and sub-districts, under this call,
will be assigned by the War Department through the Provost-Marshal
General of the United States: and in case the quota, or any part
thereof, of any town, township, ward of a city, precinct or election
district, or of a county not so subdivided, shall not be filled before
the :15th day of February, 1865, then a draft shall be made to fill such
quota, or any part thereof, under this call, which may be unfilled on
the : N >aid 15th day of February, 1865.

In testimony 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 nineteenth day of December,
in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and six-
\l. S ] ty-four, and of the independence of the United States the
eighty-ninth. Abraham Lincoln.

By the President :

Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Operations in the field continued to meet with great suc-
cess. General Sherman, after an almost unobstructed march
across the State of Georgia, burst through to the sea by the
raj ture, on December 13th, of Fort McAllister, on the Ogee-
ch<e River, whose fall opened communications for him with
fehfi fleet. Operations to assist him by an attack upon the
line of railroad from Savannah to Charleston had succeeded
*n retaining a heavy force of the rebels here, although there
seems to have been little effort to concentrate forces to check
Sherman's march. It threatened so many and so diverse
points that the rebels were bewildered and were not able to
make any successful resistance. General Hardee, who com-
manded in Savannah, determined not to await a siege, but as
soon as Sherman began to get his guns in position, aband-
oned the city, crossing the Savannah River at night on a pon-
toon bridge and making his escape, with about fifteen thou-
sand men, into South Carolina. Savannah, thus abandoned,
surrendered at once on the 21st of December to General
Sherman, who on the 22d sent a dispatch to the President,
presenting to him "as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah
with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammu-


nition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton."

The fall of Savannah was not the only success which made
the month of December glorious. It was preceded by the
three days' fight in front of Nashville, when Hood's army was
crushed by the attack of General Thomas, and that northward
campaign, for the purpose of entering upon which he had left
the way open for Sherman to pierce the very vitals of. the
Confederacy, and by which he had hoped in some degree to
neutralize the value of Sherman's progress, was turned at
once into utter destruction. His losses during this brief cam-
paign were estimated at more than twenty thousand men.

Several expeditions were also sent out by our generals into
various parts of the rebel territory — into Mississippi, the
southwest parts of Virginia and North Carolina — which met
with success, and inflicted great loss upon the rebels. In
front of Petersburg General Grant still maintained his posi-
tion. A heavy force under General Warren was sent out dur-
ing the early part of the month in the direction of Weldon.
The Weldon Railroad was thoroughly destroyed nearly as
far as Hicksford, and the expedition returned without serious
loss. The weather, which was extremely inclement, was the
principal obstacle which they encountered. A far more im-j
portant movement, however, was the attack upon Fort
Fisher, which commanded the main entrance to the port of
Wilmington, the great head-quarters of blockade running.
This expedition sailed from Fortress Monroe on the 13th of
December. It consisted of a strong fleet under Rear-Admiral
D. D. Porter, assisted by a land force under command of
General Butler. A prominent feature of it was a vessel loaded
with several hundred tons of powder, which it was intended
to run ashore as near as possible to the fort and there ex-
plode. It was supposed, from the terrible effects caused by
the accidental firing some months before of a magazine in
England containing about that amount, that the explosion of
so large a quantity of powder would entirely destroy or
greatly damage the fort and utterly demoralize the garrison.
The vessel rendezvoused at Beaufort, North Carolina, and
thence sailed for Fort Fisher. But there seems to have been
a lack of concert of action between the navy and the army.
The powder boat was exploded before the army transports
arrived, and whether the work was so imperfectly done that


only a small portion of the powder was fired, or whether a
difference of circumstances led to a different result it pro-
duced little or no effect. A heavy bombardment by the fleet
followed, lasting for a day and a half, under cover of which
the troops were landed above the fort. An outlying battery
was captured by them, but on a reconnoissance of the main
works they were reported to be but little injured by the fire
of the fleet and too strong to be attacked by the force under
General Butler's command ; and he accordingly re-embarked
and returned with them to Fortress Monroe and the attack
was abandoned.

The persistency of General Grant showed itself here, how-
ever, as it had done so many times before. He immediately
sent a somewhat larger force, under the command of General
Terry, to renew the attack. The fleet, which had replenished
its magazines, renewed the bombardment more terribly than
before, this time causing great injury to the works, and the
troops were again landed for a second assault upon the fort,
whose garrison had been in the meantime greatly strength-

The failure of the former assault had caused great vexation
and disgust throughout the country. It was thought that
even if the forces were not heavy enough to make a success-
ful assault, they might at least have maintained their ground
on shore until a stronger force could be sent and it was inti-
mated pretty broadly that the assault should have been or-

General Butler was removed from the command of the
Army of the James on the 8th of January. In his farewell
order he, on his part, assumed and asserted that his removal
was because he had been too chary of the lives of his men.

Great controversy arose on this point, and assumed at
once a political aspect. General Butler was called before the
Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War, and
was in the very act of giving his testimony as to the facts and
his reasons for judging an assault impracticable, when the
news arrived of the capture of the fort on the night of the
i.Sth of January, after the most desperate assault of the war.
This result put a stop to the controversy which was rising,
and spread the greatest joy through the country, as it was
at once seen that the result must be the closing of the only


port which had remained open to the blockade runners, and
the capture of Wilmington itself. The Richmond papers en-
deavored to make light of it, and spoke of it as a "blessing in
disguise;" but this deceived no one. It was felt that the last
breathing-hole of the rebellion was closed, and that its power
must speedily succumb between the mighty forces of the
army which Grant held immovable before Petersburg and
General Lee, and that other army which General Sherman
was already moving forward on its destructive march through
South Carolina towards the rear of Richmond.

The death of Edward Everett, which occurred on the day
of the fall of Fort Fisher, was felt to be a great loss to the
country. The patriotic position which he had taken at the
beginning of the rebellion and steadily maintained, the uni-
form support which he had given to the Administration, lend-
ing even the weight of his name to the electoral ticket in
Massachusetts, and his constant and valuable labors for the
cause, fully justified the following order, issued at Washing-
ton on the receipt of the news of his death : —

The President directs the undersigned to perform the painful duty
of announcing to the people of the United States, that Edward
Everett, distinguished not more by learning and eloquence than by
unsurpassed and disinterested labors of patriotism at a period of po-
litical disorder, departed this life at four o'clock this morning. The
several Executive Departments of the Government will cause appro-
priate honors to be rendered to the memory of the deceased, at home
and abroad, wherever the national name and authority are recognized.
(Signed) William H. Seward.

The President referred to this death in some remarks
which he made on the 24th of January, on the occasion of the
presentation to him of a vase of skeleton leaves gathered on
the battle-field of Gettysburg, which had been one of the or-
naments of the Sanitary Fair at Philadelphia. The chairman
of the committee having presented the gift, the President
acknowledged its receipt as follows : —

Reverend Sir, and Ladies and Gentlemen: — I accept with emo-
tions of profoundest gratitude, the beautiful gift you have been pleased
to present to me. You will, of course, expect that I acknowledge it.
So much has been said about Gettysburg, and so well, that for me to
attempt to say more may perhaps only serve to weaken the force ol
that which has already been said. A most graceful and eloquent
tribute was paid to the patriotism and self-denying labors of the
American ladies, on the occasion of the consecration of the National


Cemetery at Gettysburg, by our illustrious friend, Edward Everett,
now, alas! departed from earth. His life was a truly great one, and
I think the greatest part of it was that which crowned its closing years.
I wish you to read, if you have not already done so, the eloquent
and truthful words which he then spoke of the women of America.
Truly, the services they have rendered to the defenders of our country
in this perilous time, and are yet rendering, can never be estimated
as they ought to be. For your kind wishes to me personally, I beg
leave to render you likewise my sincerest thanks. I assure you they
are reciprocated. And now, gentlemen and ladies, may God bless
you all.

Several important matters were brought before Congress
during January.

The Senate passed the House resolution requesting the
President to give notice of the termination of the Reciprocity
Treaty, but with amendments, in which the House concurred.

The question of retaliation came up in the Senate, and
after a lengthy debate a resolution passed the Senate, on the
31st of January, advising retaliation, but such as was con-
formable to the usages of war as practiced among civilized

Great excitement was aroused in the House by a debate
upon the conduct of General Butler in New Orleans, arising
out of a speech by Mr. Brooks, of New York, in which he
spoke of the General as "a gold robber." General Butler,
hearing of this, sent one of his aids to Mr. Brooks with a let-
ter, asking whether he was correctly reported, and whether
there was any explanation, other than what appeared in the
report, of his language, saying that the bearer would call for
his answer at any place or time he might designate. Mr.
Brooks chose to regard this as a challenge, and therefore an
invasion of his privileges as a member of the House, and he
accordingly sought to bring it before that body. The
Speaker decided that the letter was no invasion of privilege.
Mr. Brooks appealed from the decision of the chair, and a
heated debate followed, which was closed by the withdrawal
of the appeal.

A very important resolution, reported by the Judiciary
Committee, passed the House on the 30th of January, setting
forth that as the local authorities of the States of Virginia,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama,
Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas had rebelled against the


Government, and were in rebellion on the 9th of November,
1864, therefore,

Resolved, That the States mentioned in the preamble to this reso-
lution shall not be entitled to representation in the Electoral College
for the choice of President and Vice-President of the United States,
for the term of office commencing on the 4th of March next, and no
electoral votes shall be received or counted from those States.

But bv far the most important action which was taken
ditfing the whole session was the passage, on the 31st of
January, of the resolution for the constitutional amend-
ment prohibiting slavery. This resolution, as will be recol-
lected, passed the Senate early in the previous session, but
coming up in the House, it failed at that time to receive the
requisite two-thirds vote. A motion for a reconsideration
was made and laid upon the table. It was taken from the
table early in this session, and was debated at great length.
It was very soon manifest that by the progress of events
the amendment had gained strength since the previous at-
tempt to pass it. The debate was closed by a call for the
previous question, for it was a subject on which debate could
never be exhausted. The motion to reconsider was carried
by a vote of one hundred and twelve to fifty-seven. The
question then recurred on the passage of the resolution, on
which the vote was taken amid the deepest interest. The
Speaker directed his own name to be called as a member
of the House, and voted aye. His vote was received with
loud applause, which he promptly checked; and when the
votes of several Democrats were given in favor of the reso-
lution, they were also greeted with applause, and the hopes
of the friends of the measure rose, for although two-thirds
had not voted in favor of the reconsideration, it was mani-
fest that the vote on the resolution was gaining in strength.
When the vote was declared, and it was announced that the
resolution was passed by a vote of one hundred and nine-
teen yeas to fifty-six nays, tumultuous applause broke forth,
not only in the galleries, but also on the floor of the House,
which immediately adjourned.

The adoption of this amendment was hailed with universal
satisfaction. Those who had from the beginning regarded
slavery as the cause of the rebellion, and had, therefore,
made its extinction the indispensable condition of peace, saw


ill the action of Congress the fruition of their hopes and
labors; while the great body of the people, wearied by the
protracted contest and satisfied that none but the extremest
measures would bring it to a close, acquiesced in the pro-
hibition of slavery as a legitimate consequence of the rebel-
lion, and as promising substantial compensation to the nation
for the ravages of war.

President Lincoln had regarded the passage of the amend-
ment with special interest. He regarded it as covering what-
ever defects a rigid construction of the Constitution might
find in his proclamation of emancipation, and as the only
mode in which the perpetual prohibition of slavery could
be placed beyond doubt or cavil. His view of the subject
was indicated in the remarks which he addressed to an
enthusiastic crowd, which gathered before the executive man-
sion, on the evening of the adoption of the resolution, to
congratulate him upon this auspicious triumph. In response
to their calls, he said : —

He supposed the passage through Congress of the constitutional
amendment for the abolishing of slavery throughout the United States
was the occasion to which he was indebted for the honor of this call.

The occasion was one of congratulation to the country, and to the
whole world. But there is a task before us — to go forward and con-

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 24 of 41)