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"St. Louis Republic" uncovered what was thought to be a vast conspiracy of Mid-Western opponents of the war, Democrats and "copperheads" uniting to take possession of the State governments, take control of the coming Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and bring the war to an end. The story was worse than the facts, but the facts were serious enough. On August 12 there was an open-air meeting in Union Square, New York, a demonstration in behalf of General McClellan, the candidate of army officers in general as well as of conservative people in all the States. Hiram Ketchum and other prominent New York business men were listed as vicepresidents of the meeting. The "Evening Post" estimated the crowd at sixty thousand, the "Tribune" at thirty thousand. McClellan was undoubtedly the choice of the people for the presidency at that time.
As if this were not bitter enough, on the eighth of August the papers of the North carried the angry reply of Wade and Davis to Lincoln's refusal to adopt the Congress plan of reconstruction, as violent an attack upon the president as any this generation has witnessed, closing with the charge: "the President strides headlong toward the anarchy his proclamation of December inaugurated." On the eighteenth the papers carried a story that Lincoln had proposed an armistice to Jefferson Davis-the first news of the secret maneuvers of John R. Gilmore and Horace Greeley seeking a means of ending the war, Lincoln not unwilling even then if Southerners would but remain in the Union. In the midst of all this distress and gloom and lawlessness, the
Democratic leaders, assisted by their own and the independent press, prepared for the greatest convention they had held since the days of Jackson and Polk. Eminent men all over the North, business men of great means and the smaller folk of conservative tendencies, in conventions and in mass-meetings, showed the strength of the ancient party. When the delegates met in Chicago on August 29, it was plain to all that the majority of the country sympathized with their efforts to compromise the differences between North and South, as indeed the reception of Lincoln's similar efforts had shown-it was to be a peace without victory.
The convention met. It nominated George B. McClellan on the first ballot and without opposition, the downright peace element of the convention very popular and very powerful. On the last day of August the country was of the opinion. that Lincoln had no chance, Wade and Davis still agitating, Greeley and Chase still complaining and hopeless. A committee of leading Republicans, young Whitelaw Reid of the "Cincinnati Gazette," Horace Greeley, and George Updyke of the National Union Republican Committee, having entered into tacit agreements with some senators and other leaders of the party, made formal demand for the withdrawal of Lincoln from the ticket and for the further agreement to yield to the calling of another Union Republican Convention late in September, a convention that was to nominate another candidate, could one be agreed upon. Was it Chase? And to show how strong the pressure was, one has only to recall that Lincoln dismissed from the cabinet on
the first of September his loyal friend, Postmaster-General Blair, to appease the wrath of Chase, Blair yielding gracefully to the unwilling request of the president, the bitter Winter Davis ready now to make speeches for the cause if not for Lincoln. Lincoln, watching from Washington with sorrowful eye the vast drift of opinion, wrote the remarkable note proposing to share with McClellan the administration of the government, in the event of his own expected defeat, and in curious fashion procured the signatures of all his cabinet. On September 1, 1864, the personal popularity and prestige of Abraham Lincoln had reached their lowest ebb, his very place in history in grave doubt, military success delayed till men thought the sieges of Petersburg and Atlanta would drag on till after the election-the North to lose everything if she lost that.
One of the strange turns of history occurred. Joseph E. Johnston, a slow man of the mold of McClellan, yielding ground during the summer of 1864 until Sherman and his unshaken army approached the far-flung defenses of Atlanta, found himself the object of as bitter popular attack in Georgia as McClellan had been in the North. Benjamin H. Hill, a fiery Confederate, carried the people's case to Jefferson Davis, sore pressed at every point and not forgetful of the fussy complaining character of Johnston. There was a momentous conference at the house of James Lyons in the suburbs of Richmond, the fate of Lincoln depending on the decision of Davis. For Johnston behind his intrench
ments about Atlanta might easily baffle and thwart Sherman for months, as Lee baffled and thwarted Grant at Petersburg. But the people demanded a change. Davis removed Johnston.
John B. Hood, a militarist of the type of Jackson or Forrest, both legs shot off in Virginia, the rest of him tied fast upon his war-horse, took command. He fought a battle, not unlike that of Grant at Cold Harbor, and lost leagues to Sherman's eager army. Toward the end of August, the great Democratic convention in session in Chicago, Montgomery Blair about to be dismissed from Lincoln's unhappy cabinet, Lee still unbeaten at Petersburg, Hood made his next great drive upon Sherman and lost again-fighting in this case more fatal than running away. Atlanta fell September 2. Sherman informed Lincoln on the fourth. Once more the unreligious Lincoln called the people of the North into their churches. There was reason. The Republicans ceased to attack their president; the Democratic cause, till then ominous, began to flatten. Americans love success. Lincoln was successful, poor Chase and his chum Winter Davis willing now to touch their hats. The son of Nancy Hanks, by the help of the excited people of Georgia and the doubting Jefferson Davis, had the most decisive of all his military encounters to his credit. This was his military success. The fall of Atlanta meant the reëlection of Lincoln, the last item of his program won. The sun shone brightly in November, 1864. Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd began to be happy in the White House.
But the president had learned many a lesson in the White House, a rare thing for any one behind the walls of that enchanted castle. While the leaders and makers of his party turned their thoughts toward vindictive penalties, he bethought him of the broken prostrate Southerners, his countrymen still. In the second inaugural address he said:
"Both the peoples of the North and the South read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. . . . The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in."
There was only one other leader on either side of that great conflict who could have spoken thus-Robert E. Lee. But Stevens and Sumner and Winter Davis sharpened their weapons as if the war were just beginning, heightened their hatreds and suffered passion and interest and needless fear to rule them. Toward the end of March, the forces of the Confederacy weakening every day, and Lee broken in fortune, in health, the president went to City Point, the irate Sumner with him, to advise with Grant, expectant of victory, and with Sherman, running up from North Carolina, the ungainly, modest, democratic chief of the great Northwest giving law at last to the aristocrats of the humbled South, Sumner calling again and again for the for the blood of the guilty, Sumner who had said to all the world: "there is no war that is honorable, no peace that is dishonorable." The president, in The president, in
my opinion, gave Grant and Sherman the terms they later offered Lee and Johnston-adequate but not severe
As Lincoln set his face toward Washington, Lee met Grant at Appomattox. The greatest soldier of his time surrendered with all the dignity any victor might have commanded to little Ulysses S. Grant of Galena, who bore himself with all the modesty greatness ought ever to command. It was one of the great moments in world history, the Union saved once and for all, "government of the people, by the people, for the people"-was it, or was there already a power in the North too great for Lincoln's democracy?
On the eleventh of April, all the North rejoicing as few peoples have ever rejoiced, Lincoln said from a portico of the White House: "Whether the Southerners have ever been out of the Union or not does not concern me. Finding themselves safely at home, it would be utterly immaterial whether they had ever been abroad." And three days later to the cabinet, poor Stanton present: "I hope there will be no persecution, no bloody work after the war is over. . . . We must extinguish our resentment if we expect peace."
There was forming all over the East a mighty group, business chiefs and resolute senators fanning the passions of simple men, a group that made ready to take from Lincoln the baton of leadership, the sort of men who rise in their might at the end of every great war and demand the dismissal of those who think to make peace by forgiving their enemies. The homely Lincoln had run his course, a long and toilsome course
Pop used to work good like me. I remember some-an' Mom tells of it. But then he got his hand sore from that bullhead. They can sting, too, I know. He must 'a' been to Winton hospital near three months, when it got infected. He'd 'a' lost the hand, too, if he'd let 'em. "I guess not," he'd say, when they'd ask him. I bet they was awful mad, all right. Pop was set, once he made up his mind. But he was right, all right. It healed fine.
It healed fine, an' he come home. I remember how happy I was. I thought I'd just help, like before he was sick; he'd run the farm again, natchully. I was bone tired. At first, there-I got used to it, o' course, an' never thought-till now. Till just now.
He set round. I was surprisedonly a kid. I couldn't know. He was soft, of course, livin' easy like he done, all them months to the hospital. He tol' me, when I asked him. "I got to take it easy," he says. I remember the time I dug them potatoes. I asked him again.
"What's the matter?" he says. "Ain't you got sense? I can't do no diggin' yet."
I was such a kid I wanted to help him. "I'll dig," I says; “I like it, Pop. You can just pick up."
I'll never forget the way he looked at me, rockin' in this same rocker. I never said nothin' again.
I never said nothin' 'bout his settin', but it was a long time before I stopped thinkin', "Pop'll help with this; Pop'll help with that; Pop'll be round by that time." I kept countin' on him for a long, long while.
Well, we got through that winter somehow.
It come to me I was the man o' the place. I was ten. I wasn't so big built for my years, neither. Spring, an' I plowed.