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 29 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 29 of 41)
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pation for the whole State, practically applies the proclamation to the
part previously excepted. It does not adopt apprenticeship for freed
people, and is silent, as it could not well be otherwise, about the
admission of members to Congress. So that, as it applied to Louisi-
ana, every member of the Cabinet fully approved the plan. The mes-
sage went to Congress, and I received many commendations of the
plan, written and verbal, and not a single objection to it from any
professed emancipationist came to my knowledge until after the news
reached Washington that the people of Louisiana had begun to move
in accordance with it. From about July, 1862, I had corresponded
with different persons supposed to be interested in seeking a recon-
struction of a State Government for Louisiana. When the message
of 1863, with the plan before mentioned, reached New Orleans, Gen-
eral Banks wrote me that he was confident that the people, with his
military co-operation, would reconstruct substantially on that plan.
I wrote to him and some of them to try it. They tried it, and the
result is known. Such has been my only agency in getting up the
Louisiana Government. As to sustaining it, my promise is out, as
before stated. But as bad promises are better broken than kept, I
shall treat this as a bad promise and break it, whenever I shall be
convinced that keeping it is adverse to the public interest; but I
have not yet been so convinced. I have been shown a letter on this
subject, supposed "to be an able one, in which the writer expresses
regret that my mind has not seemed to be definitely fixed upon the
question whether the seceded States, so called, are in the Union or
out of it. It would perhaps add astonishment to his regret were he
to learn that since I have found professed Union men endeavoring
to answer that question, I have purposely forborne any public ex-
pression upon it. As appears to me, that question has not been nor
yet is a practically material one, and that any discussion of it, while
it thus remains practically immaterial, could have no effect other
than the mischievous one of dividing our friends. As yet, whatever
it may become, that question is bad as the basis of a controversy,
and good for nothing at all — a merely pernicious abstraction. We


all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their proper
practical relation with the Union, and that the sole object of the
Government, civil and military, in regard to those States, is to again
get them into their proper practical relation. I believe that it is not
only possible, but in fact easier, to do this without deciding or even
considering whether those States have ever been out of the Union,
than with it. Finding themselves safely at home, it would be utterly
immaterial whether they had been abroad. Let us all join in doing
the acts necessary to restore the proper practical relations between
these States and the Union, and each forever after innocentlv indulge
his own opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the States
from without into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance,
they never having been out of it. The amount of constituency, so to
speak, on which the Louisiana Government rests, would be more
satisfactory to all if it contained fifty thousand, or thirty thousand,
or even twenty thousand, instead of twelve thousand, as it does. It
is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given
to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now con-
ferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as
soldiers. Still, the question is not whether the Louisiana Govern-
ment, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is, Will
it be wiser to take it as it is and help to improve it, or to reject and
disperse? Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation
with the Union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new State
Government? Some twelve thousand voters in the heretofore Slave
State of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the Union, assumed to
be the rightful political power of the State, held elections, organized
a State Government, adopted a Free State Constitution, giving the
benefit of public schools equally to black and white, and empowering
the Legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man.
This Legislature has already voted to ratify the Constitutional Amend-
ment recently passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout the
nation. These twelve thousand persons are thus fully committed to
the Union and to perpetuate freedom in the State — committed to the
very things, and nearly all things, the nation wants — and they ask the
nation's recognition and its assistance to make good this committal.
Now, if we reject and spurn them, we do our utmost to disorganize
and disperse them. We, in fact, say to the white man : You are
worthless or worse; we will neither help you nor be helped by you.
To the blacks we say : This cup of liberty which these, your old mas-
ters, held to your lips, we will dash from you, and leave you to the
chances of gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some vague
and undefined when, where, and how. If this course, discouraging
and paralyzing both white and black, has any tendency to bring:
Louisiana into proper practical relations with the Union, I have so
far been unable to perceive it. If. on the contrary, we recognize and
sustain the new Government of Louisiana, the converse of all this is
made true. We encourage the hearts and nerve the arms of twelve
thousand to adhere to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for
it. and fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a com-
plete success. The colored man, too, in seeing all united for him, is
inspired with vigilance, and energy, and daring to the same end.


Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it
sooner by saving the already advanced steps towards it, than by run-
ning backward over them? Concede that the new Government of
Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we
shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it.
[Laughter.] Again, if we reject Louisiana, we also reject one vote
in favor of the proposed amendment to the National Constitution. To
meet this proposition, it has been argued that no more than three-
fourths of those States which have not attempted secession are neces-
sary to validly ratify the amendment. I do not commit myself against
this, further than to say that such a ratification would be question-
able, and sure to be persistently questioned, while a ratification by
three-fourths of all the States would be unquestioned and unquestion-
able. I repeat the question, Can Louisiana be brought into proper
practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining or by discard-
ing her new State Government? What has been said of Louisiana
will apply to other States. And yet so great peculiarities pertain to
each State, and such important and sudden changes occur in the
same State, and withal so new and unprecedented is the whole case,
that no exclusive and inflexible plan can safely be prescribed as to
details and collaterals. Such exclusive and inflexible plan would
surely become a new entanglement. Important principles may and
must be inflexible. In the present situation, as the phrase goes, it
may be my duty to make some new announcement to the people of
the South. I am considering, and shall not fail to act, when satisfied
that action will be proper.

The surrender of Lee changed the whole aspect of the
war, and enabled the President to place matters on a different
footing, both at home and with foreign nations.

The following proclamations were issued on April n —
the first substituting a closing of certain ports for the block-
ade, as he was authorized to do by act of Congress of July
18, 1861 ; the second correcting an error in the first; and
the third, to announce to foreign nations that the restrictions
which they had placed upon our national vessels must be
withdrawn, or the same treatment would be extended to
them : —


Whereas, by my proclamation of the 19th and 27th days of April.
1861, the ports of the United States in the States of Virginia, North
Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and
Texas were declared to be subject to blockade; but whereas the said
blockade has, in consequence of actual military occupation by this
Government, since been conditionally set aside or relaxed in respect
to the ports of Norfolk and Alexandria in the State of Virginia.
Beaufort in the State of North Carolina, Port Royal in the State of


South Carolina, Pensacola and Fernandina in the State of Florida,
and New Orleans in the State of Louisiana; and

Whereas, by the fourth section of the act of Congress approved on
the 13th of July 1861, entitled "An Act further to provide for the
collection of duties on imports and other purposes," the President,
for the reasons therein set forth, is authorized to close certain ports
of entry :

Now, therefore, be it known, that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of
the United States, do hereby proclaim that the ports of Richmond,
Rappahannock, Cherrytown, Yorktown, and Petersburg, in Virginia;
of Camden, Elizabeth City, Edenton, Plymouth, Washington, New-
bern, Ocracoke, and Wilmington, in North Carolina; of Charleston,
Georgetown, and Beaufort, in South Carolina; of Savannah, St.
Mary's, Brunswick, and Darien, in Georgia; of Mobile, in Alabama;
of Pearl River, Shieldsboro', Natchez, and Vicksburg, in Mississippi;
of St. Augustine, Key West, St. Mark's, Port Leon, St. John's, Jack-
sonville, and Apalachicola, in Florida; of Teche, Franklin, in Louisi-
ana; of Galveston, La Salle, Brazos de Santiago, Point Isabel, and
Brownsville, in Texas, are hereby closed, and all right of importa-
tion, warehousing, and other privileges shall, in respect to the ports
aforesaid, cease until they shall have again been opened by order of
the President; and if, while the said ports are so closed, any ship or
vessel from beyond the United States, or having on board any articles
subject to duties, shall attempt to enter any such port, the same,
together with its tackle, apparel, furniture and cargo, shall be for-
feited to the United 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 eleventh day of April, in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five,
[l. s.] and of the independence of the United States of America the

Abraham Lincoln.

William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Whereas, by my proclamation of this date, the port of Key West,

in the State of Florida, was inadvertently included among those which

are not open to commerce, — Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln,

President of the United States, do hereby declare and make known

that the said port of Key West is and shall remain open to foreign

and domestic commerce, upon the same conditions by which that

commerce has heretofore been governed. In witness whereof I have

hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be


Done at the City of Washington the eleventh day of April, in the

year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five,

[l. s.] and of the independence of the United States of America the


Abraham Lincoln.
By the President:

William H. Seward, Secretary of State.


Whereas, for some time past, vessels of war of the United States
have been refused in certain ports privileges and immunities to which
they were entitled by treaty, public law, or the comity of nations, at
the same time that vessels of war of the country wherein the said
privileges and immunities have been withheld have enjoyed them fully
and uninterruptedly in the ports of the United States, which condi-
tion of things has not always been forcibly resisted by the United
States, although on the other hand they have not failed to protest
against and declare their dissatisfaction with the same. In the view
of the United States no condition any longer exists which can be
claimed to justify the denial to them by any one of said nations of"
the customary naval rights such as has heretofore been so unneces-
sarily persisted in. Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, Presi-
dent of the United States, do hereby make known that, if after a
reasonable time shall have elapsed for the intelligence of this procla-
mation to have reached any foreign country in whose ports the
said privileges and immunities shall have been refused as aforesaid,
they shall continue to be so refused as aforesaid, then and thence-
forth the same privileges and immunities shall be refused to the ves-
sels of war of the country in the ports of the United States, and this
refusal shall continue until the war vessels of the United States shall
have been placed upon an entire equality in the foreign ports afore-
said with similar vessels of other countries. The United States,
whatever claim or pretence may have existed heretofore are now at
least entitled to claim and concede an entire and friendly equality of
rights and hospitalities with all maritime nations.

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 eleventh day of April, in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five,
[l. s.] and of the independence of the United States of America
the eighty-ninth.

A. Lincoln.

By the President:
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Nor were these the only measures adopted which indicated
that the war was over, the rebellion crushed, and the era of
peace and good feeling about to be ushered in.^

On the 13th, the Secretary of War announced that, "after
mature consideration and consultation with the Lieutenant-
General upon the results of the recent campaign," the De-
partment determined upon the following measures, to be
carried into immediate effect, viz.: —

First — To stop all drafting and recruiting in the loyal States.

Second — To curtail purchases of arms, ammunition, quartermaster's
and commissary's supplies, and reduce the expenses of the military
establishment in its several branches.


Third — To reduce the number of general and staff officers to the
actual necessities of the service.

Fourth — To remove all military restrictions upon trade and com-
merce, so far as may be consistent with public safety.

This determination -of the Government, announced in the
newspapers of the 14th of April, afforded the country a
substantial and most welcome assurance that the war was
over. The heart of the nation beat high with gratitude to
the illustrious Chief Magistrate, whose wisdom and patience
had saved his country; but whose glory, not yet complete,
was, before another sun should rise, destined to receive the
seal of immortality.



The Condition of the Country. — Assassination of the President. —
Murderous Assault upon Secretary Seward. — The Funeral Proces-
sion from Washington to Springfield, Illinois. — Fate of the As-
sassins. — Estimate of Mr. Lincoln's Character. — Conclusion.

The war was over. The great rebellion which, for four
long years, had been assailing the nation's life, was quelled.
Richmond, the rebel capital, was taken, Lee's army had sur-
rendered, and the flag ot the Union was floating, in reas-
sured supremacy, over the whole of the National domain.
Friday, the 14th of April, the anniversary of the surrender
of Fort Sumter in 1861, by Major Anderson to the rebel
forces, had been designated by the Government as the day
on which the same officer should again raise the American
flag upon the fort, in presence of an assembled multitude,
and with ceremonies befitting so auspicious an occasion.
The whole land rejoiced at the return of peace and the pros-
pect of renewed prosperity to the whole country. President
Lincoln shared this common joy, but with a deep intensity
of feeling which no other man in the whole land could ever
know. He saw the full fruition of the great work which
had rested so heavily on his hands and heart for four years
past. He saw the great task — as momentous as had ever
fallen to the lot of man — which he had approached with such
unfeigned diffidence, nearly at an end. The agonies of war
had passed away — he had won the imperishable renown
which is the high reward of those who save their country,
and he could devote himself now to the welcome task of
healing the wounds which war had made, and consolidating.
by a wise and magnanimous policy, the severed sections of
our common Union. Mr. Lincoln's heart was full of the
generous sentiments which these circumstances were so well
calculated to inspire. On the morning of Friday, a Cabinet


meeting was held, at which he was even more than usually
cheerful and hopeful, as he laid before the Secretaries his
plans and suggestions for the treatment of the conquered
people of the Southern States. And after the meeting was
over he talked with his wife, with all the warmth of his lov-
ing nature, of the four years of storm through which he had
been compelled to pass, and of the peaceful sky on which
the opening of his second term had dawned. His mind was
free from forebodings, and filled only with thoughts of kind-
ness and of future peace.

But Mr. Lincoln had failed to estimate aright one of the
elements inseparable from civil war — the deep and malignant
passion which it never fails to excite. Free from the faint-
est impulse of revenge himself, he could not appreciate its
desperate intensity in the hearts of others. Mr. Seward,
with his larger experience and more practical knowledge of
human nature, had repeatedly told him that so great a con-
test could never close without passing through an era of
assassination — that if it did not come as a means of aiding
the rebel cause, it would follow, and seek to avenge its
downfall, and that it was the duty of all who were responsibly
and conspicuously connected with the Government, to be
prepared for this supreme test of their courage and patriotic
devotion. Mr. Seward himself, had acted upon this con-
viction, and had stood at his post always prepared for sudden
death. Mr. Lincoln was unwilling to contemplate the possi-
bility of such a crime. To all remonstrances against personal
exposure, he replied that his death could not possibly bene-
fit the rebel cause, but would only rouse the loyalty of the
land to fresh indignation, and that no precautions he could
take would defeat the purpose of his murder, if it were really
entertained. He continued, therefore, his habit of walking
alone from the Executive Mansion to the War Department
late at night, and of riding unattended to his summer resi-
dence, the Soldiers' Home, four or five miles from the Capi-
tal, until the Secretary of War finally forced his reluctant
assent to the presence of a guard. From time to time during
his Administration, he had received letters threatening him
with assassination, but as they were anonymous, and couched
in language of bravado, he put them aside without remark.

As the war drew towards its close, and the rebel cause


seemed tottering to its fall, warnings of more significance
reached the Government, and arrested the attention of its
leading members. Hints of plots against the President's life,
among the rebel agents abroad and in Canada, began to
multiply, and towards the last of March Secretary Seward
received from our consuls in London and Liverpool detailed
reports of revelations, made to their secret agents in France,
of a comprehensive conspiracy against the lives of the Presi-
dent and Generals Grant and Sherman, assumed to be the
main bulwarks of the National cause* These warnings
were so distinct and direct, that Mr. Seward consulted Secre-
tary Stanton in regard to them, and it was agreed that he
should lay the subject before the President the next day, and
earnestly represent to him the expediency of avoiding, for a
time, all public gatherings, and all needless exposure to
possible assault. But the next day Mr. Seward was thrown
from his carriage and, his foot catching in the steps, he was
dragged for some distance, and so seriously injured, that
he was compelled to dismiss all thought of public matters
from his mind. Mr. Lincoln's visit to Richmond had led to
remonstrances from friends, who feared that some rebel
fanatic, frenzied by the overthrow of the rebel cause, might
seek revenge in the murder of the President, and he had,
in reply, given assurances that he would take all due pre-
cautions. But the matter evidently made but a momentary
impression upon his mind, and his personal demeanor in all
respects remained unchanged.

On Friday, the 14th, he breakfasted with his son, Cap-
tain Robert Lincoln, who was on the staff of General Grant,
and from whom he heard full details of the surrender of
General Lee, of which Captain Lincoln had been an eye-
witness. He received various public men after breakfast,
among whom were Speaker Colfax and ex-Senator J. P.
Hale, and conversed freely, in a tone of high and hopeful
courage, of the immediate political future. Nothing can in-
dicate more clearly the elation of mind with which the Presi-
dent regarded the future of the country, now that its safety
had been assured, than the language he addressed, in con-
versation at this interview, to Mr. Colfax, who was at this

*See Appendix.


time preparing for a journey overland to the Pacific coast.
Said he: —

"Mr. Colfax, I want you to take a message from me to the miners
whom you visit. I have very large ideas of the mineral wealth of our
nation. I believe it practically inexhaustible. It abounds all over
the Western country, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, and
its development has scarcely commenced. During the war, when we
were adding a couple of millions of dollars every day to our national
debt, I did not care about encouraging the increase in the volume of
our precious metals. We had the country to save first. But now that
the rebellion is overthrown, and we know pretty nearly the amount of
our national debt, the more gold and silver we mine, we make the
payment of that debt so much the easier. Now," said he, speaking
with emphasis, "I am going to encourage that in every possible way.
We shall have hundreds of thousands of disbanded soldiers, and
many have feared that their return home in such great numbers might
paralyze industry, by furnishing, suddenly, a greater supply of labor
than there will be demand for. I am going to try to attract them to
the hidden wealth of our mountain ranges, where there is room
enough for all. Immigration, which even the war has not stopped,
will land upon our shores hundreds of thousands more per year from
overcrowded Europe. I intend to pcint them to the gold and silver
that wait for them in the West. Tell the miners for me, that I shall
promote their interests to the utmost of my ability; because their
prosperity is the prosperity of the nation; and," said he, his eye
kindling with enthusiasm, "we shall prove, in a very few years, that
we are indeed the treasury of the world."

At eleven o'clock he attended the meeting of the Cabinet,
already referred to, which was rendered more than usually
interesting by the presence and report of General Grant,
who had come direct to Washington from the field, without
even entering the rebel Capital he had conquered, forgetful
of himself, and eager only to secure to the country the best
fruits of the victory he had achieved. At this meeting the
policy to be adopted towards the rebel States was freely
canvassed — all the leading points, submitted by the President,
commanded the hearty acquiescence of the Cabinet and of
General Grant, and, as the result of the interview, Secretary
Stanton says he felt that the Government was stronger than
at any previous period since the rebellion began. After the
meeting was over, President Lincoln arranged to attend the
theatre in the evening, expecting to be accompanied by Gen-

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 29 of 41)