Orville J. (Orville James) Victor.

The private and public life of Abraham Lincoln : comprising a full account of his early years, and a succinct record of his career as statesman and president (Volume copy 1) online

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Online LibraryOrville J. (Orville James) VictorThe private and public life of Abraham Lincoln : comprising a full account of his early years, and a succinct record of his career as statesman and president (Volume copy 1) → online text (page 5 of 9)
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was received at the telegraph office. The superintendent, who
was present, hastily wrote upon a scrap of paper : " Mr. Lin-
coln, you are nominated on the third ballot ;" which he
immediately sent, by a boy, to Mr. Lincoln. A shout of ap-
plause greeted the message throughout the office of the Journal,
but Mr. Lincoln received it in silence. Then he put the
paper in his pocket, arose, and said quietly, before he left the
room : " There is a little woman down at our house would
like to hear this. I'll go down and tell her." This was his
excuse for retiring to the privacy of his own room, where he
might commune with himself alone.

The committee appointed by. the convention to bear official
information of the result, arrived at Springfield on the next
day. Mr. Ashmun, president of the convention, addressed
Mr. Lincoln in the following terms :

" I have, sir, the honor, in behalf of the gentlemen who are


present, a committee appointed. by the Republican Convention,
recently assembled at Chicago, to discharge a most pleasant
duty. We have come, sir, under a vote of instructions to that
committee, to notify you that you have been selected by that
convention of the Republicans at Chicago, for President of the
United States. They instruct us, sir, to notify you of that
selection, and that committee deem it not only respectful to
yourself, but appropriate to the important matter which they
have in hand, that they should come in person, and present to
you the authentic evidence of the action of that convention ;
and, sir, without any phrase which shall either be considered
personally plauditory to yourself, or which shall have anyirefer-
ence to the principles involved in the questions which are con-
nected with your nomination, I desire to present to you the
letter which has been prepared, and which informs you of the
nomination, and with it the platform, resolutions and sentiments,
which the convention adopted. Sir, at your convenience, we
shall be glad to receive from you such a response as it may be
your pleasure to give us."

Mr. Lincoln replied :

"Mr. Ctoiivnan and Gentlemen of the Committee: I tender
to you, and through you to the Republican National Convention,
and all the people represented in it, my profoundest thanks for
the high honor done me, which you now formally announce.
Deeply and even painfully sensible of the great responsibility
which is inseparable from this high honor — a responsibility
which I could almost wish had fallen upon some one of the far
more eminent men and experienced statesmen whose distin-
guished names were before the convention, I shall, by your leave,
consider more fully the resolutions of the convention, denomi-
nated the platform, and without unnecessary or unreasonable
delay, respond to you, Mr. Chairman, in writing, not doubting
that the platform will be found satisfactory, and the nomination
gratefully accepted. And now I will not longer defer the pleas-
ure of taking you, and each of you, by the hand."

Upon shaking hands with Judge Kelly, of Pennsylvania,
one of the committee, who had been observing his tall figure
with admiration, Mr. Lincoln inquired :

" What is your hight ?"

" Six feet three," replied the Judge. " What is yours, Mr.
Lincoln ?"

" Six feet four."

" Then," said Judge Kelly, " Pennsylvania bows to Illinois.
My dear man, for years my heart has been aching for a Presi-
dent that I could look up to, and I have found him at last in


the land where we thought there were none but Little

On the 23d, Mr. Lincoln formally replied to the official
announcement of his nomination by the following brief letter :

" Springfield, Illinois, May 23d, 1860.
" Hon. George Ashmun, President of the Republican National
Convention :
" Sir : I accept the nomination tendered me by the conven-
tion over which you presided, and of which I am formally ap-
prised in the letter of yourself and others, acting as a committee
of the convention for that purpose.

" The declaration of principles and sentiments, which accom-
panies your letter, meets my approval ; and it shall be my care
not to violate, or- disregard it, in any part.

" Imploring the assistance of Divine Providence, and with
due regard to the views and feelings of all who were represented
in the convention ; to the rights of all the States and Territories,
and people of the nation ; to the inviolability of the Constitution,
and the perpetual union, harmony and prosperity of all, I am
most happy to co-operate for the practical success of the princi-
ples declared by the convention,

" Your obliged friend and fellow-citizen,

" Abraham Lincoln."

The news of this nomination was very acceptable to Re-
publicans generally. Not only did they recognize in Abraham
Lincoln a man of integrity and simple virtue, but one in whom
was embodied the truly democratic element of free America, a
freedom-lover, a right-respecter, and a noble, talented states-
man, sprung from the very heart of the masses. Confident of
their man and devoted to their principles — as embodied and
set forth in the platform adopted by the convention — they
entered the contest with a zeal and industry which were
without parallel in the history of the country. More noise
was made in the campaign of 1840, when log-cabins and hard
cider were instrumental in electing William Henry Harrison ;
but the zeal of 1860 was more rational and all-pervading,
betraying a resolute purpose not to be defeated which did
much toward alarming the slave-power for the perpetuity of
its long-enjoyed sovereignty.

Amid the varied acclamation which greeted the nomination
of Lincoln and Hamlin, the following campaign stanzas, from

* Judge Douglas was popularly called the "Little Giant.''


the pen of William Henry Burleigh, may find an appropriate
place here :

Up again for the conflict I our banner fling out,

And rally around it with song and with shout !

Stout of heart, firm of hand, should the gallant hoys be

Who bear to the battle the flag of the free I

Like our fathers, when Liberty called to the strife,

They should pledge to her cause fortune, honor and life !

And follow wherever she beckons them on

Till Freedom exults in a victory won!

Then fling out the banner, the old starry banner,

The battle-torn banner that beckons us on.

Our Leader is one who, with conquerless will,
Has climbed from the base to the brow of the hill ;
Undaunted in peril, unwavering in strife,
Ha has fought a good fight in the battle of life,
And we trust him as one who, come woe or come weal,
Is as firm as the rock and ae true as the steel :
Eight loyal and brave, with no stain on his crest,
Then hurrah, boys, for honest " Old Abe of the West !"
Then fling out the banner, the old starrv banner,
The signal of triumph for " Abe of the West I"

The West, whose broad acres, from lake-shore to sea,
Now wait for the harvest and homes of the free I
Shall the dark tide of Slavery roll o'er the sod,
That Freedom makes bloom like the garden of God f
The bread of our children be torn from their month
To feed the fierce dragon that preys on the South?
No, never ! the trust that our Washington laid
On. us, for the future, shall ne'er be betrayed !
Then fling out the banner, the old starry banner,
And on to the conflict. with trust undismayed!

The action taken by the Charleston (S. C.) National Demo-
cratic Convention, which convened April 23d, by the slave-
holders, is conclusive evidence that they desired the success of
the Republican party, in order to consummate the long-talked-
of secession of the slave States; for the nomination of Mr.
Lincoln, upon the unequivocal Free-State platform, seems to
have prompted them to urge the most ultra pro-slavery views
upon the convention with the design of securing a division in
the ranks of the Democracy — whose union upon one candi-
date must have insured the defeat of the Republicans. The
more extreme of the Southern politicians took no pains to con-
ceal their threats of rebellion and disunion in the event of a
triumph of the Free-State party ; though the Northern Demo-
crats in the convention were incredulous that the menaces
would ever be carried out. But if it had been more generally
believed, it is questionable if the popular vote of Mr. Lincoln
would have been diminished. For those who supported him


stood upon the broad, steadfast platform of human rights and
God-intended equity — -firmly resolved that Freedom should
henceforth spread her segis over the whole country, and slavery
be left to remain as the makers of the Constitution intended,
in the States then already cursed by its baleful presence.

The result of thejfensuing election, of November 6th, 1860,
was that Mr. Lincoln received 491,275 over Mr. Douglas ;
1,018,499 over Mr. Breckinridge ; and 1,275,821 over Mr. Bell ;
and the electoral vote, subsequently proclaimed by Congress,
was — for Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, 180; for John C.
Breckinridge, of Kentucky, 72 ; for John Bell, of Tennessee,
39 ; for Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, -12. The following
States cast their electoral votes for Mr. Lincoln : Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connec-
ticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michi-
gan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California — sixteen in number.

The intention of the American people, in electing Abraham
Lincoln to be their chief magistrate, was to restrict the exten-
sion of slavery in the Territories, and to abrogate its political
power, which had threatened to become perpetual. The
consequences of that election have been widely different from
what was anticipated. Possibly the people of the North
would have permitted •themselves to be governed by their
apprehensions rather than their sentiments, had they foreseen
that the insanity of their " Southern brethren " would culminate
in the terrible conflict which devastated the land ; but; can
there be a doubt now, when the ultimate issue of the shaking
struggle between freedom and slavery is so clearly in view,
that we are moving onward to better things — that the result
of the campaign of 1860 was a thing ordained by Providence
for the best ?

He who does all things well has Nations as well as indi-
viduals in his keeping ; and that he permitted the events of
1860-61 to culminate in civil war, must have been for some
divine purpose. A few generations hence the world will look
back with wonder and awe upon the appalling trial through
which the Union passed ; but, if they see as its fruits a nation
of freemen who shudder at the crimes of their fathers in buy-
ing and selling human flesh and blood, the sacrifice will be
deemed to have been not too great.




That Abraham Lincoln was for the subversion of the Con-
stitution, by intermeddling with slavery within the States
where it existed, as was widely proclaimed by the wicked and
ambitious leaders of -public opinion in the South, was a false-
hood of which none knew the falseness better than themselves.*
In no utterance, public or private, wlych Mr. Lincoln had
made during his life, was this principle upheld or hinted. He
had, indeed, watched the increase of the slave power, and the
baneful effects it was producing upon our Government, with
jealousy and apprehension ; but the means he would have
used to arrest the evil was simply by confining the institution
within the limits of those States which already had legalized
and ingrafted it upon their domestic systems. He had, there-
fore, boldly asserted the right of Congress to prohibit the
extension of the institution to the yet uncorrupted systems of
those Territories which had come to us as free and untram-
meled as the broad rivers that rush through their-wastes, or
the winds that shake their grasses and sing through their

* Among? other declarations of Mr. Lincoln on the question most affect-
ing the Southern States, we may cite his well-known answers to the
Jueries propounded by Mr. Douglas at their joint debate at Freeport,
llinois, August 27th, 1858. He then stated:

" I do not now, nor ever did, stand in favor of the unconditional repeal
of the Fugitive Slave Law.

" I do not now, nor ever did, stand pledged against the admission of any
more slave States into the Union.

"I do not stand pledged against the Admission of a new State into the
Union with such a Constitution as the people of that State may see fit to

" I do not stand pledged, to-day, to the abolition of slavery in the Dis-
trict of Columbia. ^

" I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade between
the States."

And in his speech at the same time he alluded, in most unequivocal
terms, to his kindly feeling toward the Southern States, and his solemn
desire to give them every and all constitutional right, even to the recla-
mation of their slaves escaping to free soil.

Bat what were these and hundreds of other similar declarations to men
Whose cause dared not to face the truth ?


The Southerners knew this, and they knew — many of them
had said — that there was nothing which was unconstitutional
in such principles, and the promulgation of them. But when
wicked men are desirous of crime, the step between its incep-
tion and its commission is a brief one, and the excuses by
which they would justify their wickedness to their own wicked
souls and to the public, are as ready as lies on the lip of a
coward, and as " thick as autumn leaves that strew the brooks
of Vallambrosa." The deed of sin which was moaning for a
vent in the hearts of the Southern extremists,. and which had
been gestating for thirty years, was the destruction of the
American Union^ and the foundation of a slave empire upon
the North American continent. The^ accomplishment of this
ambitious but detestable scheme was the underlying and over-
lying motive of action, and to secure its fulfillment truth was
robbed of its sanctity, honor was scorned and virtue scouted.
To declare the election of Lincoln a just cause for secession
was as mean as it was false ; yet it was only one of the
stupendous falsehoods by which the " Southern heart was fired."

It is, therefore, not wonderful that the news of Lincoln's
election was the signal for general gratulation and undisguised
pleasure in many parts of the South. They had been seek-
ing excuses — here was one ready to their hand ! In vain
did the Republican party exclaim: "This is ungener-
ous — unfair ! We stood your Presidents, one after another,
for a quarter of a century. You will surely allow us- — the
majority — four years ; only a four years !" The South had
only laughed. " But, at any rate, be reasonable," remon-
strated the North. " Only try us ! _, For never so brief a
time, let us, at least, have a trial, that you may judge us."
Then the slave power frowned ; it was going to do nothing
of the kind. What ! — risk the long-sought-for, at-length-dis-
covered excuse for the parricidal blow, and the establishment
of their slave-kingdom — risk that on the chance of an experi-
ment with . the " Black Republican Abolitionists ?" Not a
bit of it ! In short, the news of Mr. Lincoln's election was
not a month old before the spirit of secession in South Caro-
lina — the hot-bed of treason ever since the promulgation of
the Federal Constitution — began to assume proportions most
startling to the loyal people of the land.


. Mr. Douglas had been the favorite of the Democratic Con-
vention which had originally assembled at Charleston ; but,
the slaveholding politicians had managed to procure the nom-
ination of Mr. Breckinridge, with a full knowledge ^hat the
division in their party, thus produced, could hardly fail to
secure the success of the Republican candidate at the polls.
The two wings of the Democratic party, which were thus
created, were not so widely antagonistic in principles but
that the South might have united upon that one represented
byJVIr. Douglas, without serious detriment to their supposed
rights and privileges, had they been disposed to preserve the

Mr. Breckinridge represented that pro-slavery element of the
Democratic party which demanded the positive protection of
slave property in the Territories against any legislation, either
of Congress or of the people of the Territories themselves,
that might seek to impair their alleged right of property in
human beings. He represented this destructive principle.

Mr. Douglas, on the contrary, represented the theory that
the inhabitants of the Territories had a perfect right to de-
cide whether or not the institution of slavery should find foot-
hold on their soil.

Thus, while the Republicans maintained the right of Con-
gressional interference, in the Territories, to prohibit the en-
trance of slavery, and the Southern Democrats held the right
of Congressional interference to protect but not to prohibit (!)
slavery therein, Mr. Douglas was similarly and equally op-
posed to both Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Breckinridge, in the Presi-
dential issue.

As the supporters of John Bell were simply the few who
were dissatisfied with all existing parties, and who dared not
enunciate definite opinions on the main points at issue, they
and their principles (if they had any) may be suffered to pass
as too insignificant for consideration.

The different sections of the country had entered the elec-
tion with equal zeal and activity. And, as heretofore, the
Lincoln, Bell, and Douglas parties, though desirous of success,
were fully willing to abide by the victory, upon whichever
standard it might happen to perch. But, the Breckinridge
Democracy had entered upon the contest with the distinct,


ungenerous intention of " acquiescing in the result only in the
event of its giving them the victory." The election of the
Republican candidate — which, by their own action, they espe-
cially promoted — was to be the signal for revolt.

When the secession storm began to gather in the South,
after the sixth of November, the people were not long in dis-
covering that, even in the cabinet of Mr. Buchanan, there
were dishonorable men who had long been in active compli-
city with the traitors, and who were now ready to afford them
all the aid in their power. Probably the prince of these per-
fidious creatures was John B. Floyd, Secretary of War, whose
stupendous tissue of embezzlement, theft and perjury was, for
a short time, though with difficulty, kept from the light. So
that, when General Scott wrote to the President and this Sec-
retary, expressing his fears that the secessionists would seize
some of the Federal forts in the Southern States, and recom-
mending that the strongholds be immediately reinforced, in
order to prevent such a disaster, it is not at all surprising that
the conspirator, Floyd, should endeavor, with his utmost, to
prevent acquiescence in this politic recommendation, which,
if carried into practice, must have greatly crippled, if not ac-
tually thwarted, the foul conspiracy. The villainy of this
Virginian was something unparalleled in the annals of crime.
A subsequent official report from the Ordnance Department,
" shows that, during the year 1860, and previous to the Presi-
dential election, one hundred and fifteen thousand muskets
had been removed from Northern armories and sent to South-
ern arsenals, by a single order of the Secretary of War, issued
on the 30th of December, 1859." The quotas of Government
arms for the Southern States were not only filled when he
knew the object was to use them against the laws and the
Constitution, but the perfidious servant, anticipating the reso-
lution, sent -two years' quotas where only one was due — thus
stripping the arsenals, and depriving the Northern States of
the materiel for arming their citizens to preserve the Union.
One of the misfortunes of the war was the death, during its
pendency, of this man. He should have lived to endure the
scorn of his injured fellow-citizens, and to feel the weight of
the law against treason.

This treachery was succeeded by a duplicity almost as


heinous, when the Hon. John S. Black, in reply (Nov. 20th,
I860,) to inquiries of Mr. Buchanan, gave his official opinion,
as Attorney-General, (and a " State Rights" advocate, it may
be added,) that it was not in the power even of Congress to
prevent a violation of the Constitution by making war upon
any State ; and the Executive, it soon became evident, would
pursue a course in conformity with this theory.

The Legislature of South Carolina initiated the secession
movement, when, in November, 1860, that body passed an
act summoning a State Convention to meet at Columbia on
the 17th of the ensuing month. Francis W. Pickens, who
was elected Governor on the 10th, distinctly declared, in his
inaugural, the determination of South Carolina to secede, be-
cause, " in the recent election for President and Vice-Presi-
dent, the North had carried the election upon principles which
make it no longer safe for us to rely upon the powers of the
Federal Government or the guarantees of the Federal com-
pact." This wretched sophistry was, nevertheless, unequivo-
cal, inasmuch as it foretold the coming event. The Conven-
tion adjourned from Columbia to Charleston on the first day
of its session, and, on the 20th of December, an ordinance was
passed, whereby the ordinance of .1788, ratifying the Federal
Constitution, was unanimously declared repealed, and the
union, existing between South Carolina and the United States,

South Carolina was, thus, the first State to pass an ordi-
nance of secession. So far as she was concerned, secession
was not the mushroom growth of an hour or a night, but the
steadily branching Upas of more than two generations. " And
the disclosures which have since been made, imperfect, com-
paratively, as they are, prove clearly that the whole secession
movement was in the hands of a few conspirators, who had
their head-quarters at the national capital, and were them-
selves closely connected with the Government of the United
States." At a secret meeting of these conspirators, January
5th, 1861, at which many Southern Senators were present,
" it was decided that each Southern State should secede from
the Union as soon as possible ; that a convention of seceding
States should be held at Montgomery, Alabama, not later than
the 15th of February ; and that the Senators and Members of



Congress from the Southern States ought to remain in their
seats as long as possible, in order to defeat measures that
might be proposed at Washington, hostile to the secession
movement. Davis, of Mississippi, Slidell, of Louisiana, and
Mallory, of Florida, were appointed a committee to carry
these decisions into effect; and in pursuance of them, Missis-
sippi passed an ordinance of secession, January 9th ; Alabama
and Florida, January 11th; Louisiana, January 26th; and
Texas, February 5th. All these acts, as well as all which fol-
lowed, were simply the execution of the behests of this secret
conclave of conspirators who had resolved upon secession.

It, is difficult to realize a treachery so astounding- as this ;
and yet these men were the representatives of a class of pre-
tentious aristocrats whose partisan cry, for forty years, had
been a denunciation of the dollar-worshiping Yankees, the
hypocritical Puritans, the cowardly Abolitionists ! Does the
record of human actions present a sordidness so vile, a hy-
pocrisy so Satanical, a cowardice so loathsome, as their own
aspect here— kissing the hand they intended to bite — accept-
ing the benefits they purposed to return with a dagger-stroke
— smiling like sunshine, that they might more securely blight,
blacken, and destroy ?

Although the Legislatures of these seceding States had en-
joined upon the conventions not to pass any act of secession
without making its validity depend upon a popular ratification
at the polls, in no one of them was the question submitted to the
vote of the people ! In accordance with the programme, dele-

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Online LibraryOrville J. (Orville James) VictorThe private and public life of Abraham Lincoln : comprising a full account of his early years, and a succinct record of his career as statesman and president (Volume copy 1) → online text (page 5 of 9)