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A compromise, to be effective, must be made either with those who control the rebel army, or with the people first liberated from the domination of that army by the successes of our own army. Now, allow me to assure you that no word or intimation from that rebel army, or from any of the men controlling it, in relation to any peace compromise, has ever come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and insinuations to the contrary are deceptive and groundless. And I promise you that if any such proposition shall hereafter come, it shall not be rejected and kept a secret from you. I freely acknowledge myself the servant of the people according to the bond of service,-the United States Constitution, and that as such I am responsible to them.
But, to be plain, you are dissatisfied with me about the negro. Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon that subject. I certainly wish all men could be free, while I suppose you do not. Yet I have neither adopted nor proposed any measure which is not consistent with even your view, provided you are for the Union. I suggested compensated emancipation, to which you replied you wished not to be taxed to buy negroes. But I had not asked you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way as to save you from greater taxation to save the Union exclusively by other means.
You dislike the Emancipation Proclamation, and perhaps would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional. I think differently. I think the Constitution invests its commander-in-chief with the law of war in time of war. The most that can be said-if so much—is that slaves are property. Is there, has there ever been, any question that by the law of war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed? And is it not needed whenever taking it helps us or hurts the enemy? Armies, the world over, destroy enemies' property when they cannot use it, and even destroy their own to keep it from the enemy. Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help themselves or hurt the enemy, except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes and non-combatants, male and female.
But the proclamation, as law, either is valid or is not valid. If it is not valid it needs no retraction. If it is valid it cannot be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life. Some of you profess to think its retraction would operate favorably for the Union. Why better after the retraction than before the issue? There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress the rebellion before the proclamation issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit notice that it was coming, unless averted by those in revolt returning to their allegiance. The war has certainly progressed as favorably for us since the issue of the proclamation as before.
I know, as fully as one can know the opinion of others, that some of the commanders of our armies in the field, who have given us our most important successes, believe the emancipation policy and the use of the colored troops constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the rebellion, and that at least one of these important successes could not have been achieved when it was but for the aid of black
soldiers. Among the commanders holding these views are some who have never had any affinity with what is called "Abolitionism" or with "Republican party politics," but who hold them purely as military opinions. I submit these opinions as being entitled to some weight against the objections often urged that emancipation and arming the blacks are unwise as military measures, and were not adopted as such in good faith.
You say you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you- but no matter. Fight you, then, exclusively to save the Union. I issued the proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time then for you to declare you will not fight to free negroes. I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do anything for us if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive, even the promise of freedom. And the promise, being made, must be kept.
The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea. Thanks to the great North-west for it. Nor yet wholly to them. Three hundred miles up they met New England, Empire, Keystone, and Jersey, hewing their way right and left. The sunny South, too, in more colors than one, also lent a hand. On the spot, their part of the history was jotted down in black and white. The job was a great national one, and let none be banned who bore an honorable part in it. And while those who have cleared the great river may well be proud, even that is not all. It is hard to say that anything has been more bravely and well done than at Antietam, Murfreesboro', Gettysburg, and on many fields of lesser note. Nor must Uncle Sam's web-feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins they have been present. Not only on the deep sea, the broad bay, and the rapid river, but also up the narrow, muddy bayou; and wherever the ground was a little damp, they have been and made their tracks. Thanks to all. For the great Republic - for the principle it lives by and keeps alive - for man's vast future-thanks to all.
Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time. It will then have been proved that among free men there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet, and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case and pay the cost. And there will be some black men who can remember that with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet they have helped mankind on to this great consummation; while I fear there will be some white ones unable to forget that with malignant heart and deceitful speech they strove to hinder it.
Still let us not be over sanguine of a speedy, final triumph. Let us be quite sober. Let us diligently
Among all the state papers of Mr. Lincoln from his nomination to his death this letter is unique. It may be called his last stump speech, the only one made during his Presidency. We find in it all the qualities that made him in Illinois the incomparable political leader of his party for a generation. There is the same close, unerring logic, the same innate perception of political conduct, the same wit and sarcasm, the same touch of picturesque eloquence, which abounded in his earlier and more careless oratory, but all wonderfully heightened, strengthened, and chastened by a sense of immense responsibility. In this letter, which the chairman took only ten minutes to read, he said more than all the orators at all the stands. It was, like most of his speeches, addressed principally to his opponents, and in this short space he appealed successively to their reason, to their sympathies, and to their fears. By a succession of unanswerable syllogisms he showed them how untenable was their position. He appealed to their generosity, to their sense of duty, to their patriotism, even to their love of glory, and in the end he held out to them with dignified austerity the prospect of shame and self-reproach which lay before them if they continued their hostility to the sacred cause of humanity and nationality. The style of this letter is as remarkable as its matter; each sentence, like a trained athlete, is divested of every superfluous word and syllable, yet nowhere is there a word lacking, any more than a word too much. Modest as he was, he knew the value of his own work, and when a friend called to ask him if he was going to Springfield he replied, "No, I shall send them a letter instead; and it will be a rather good letter."2 The Springfield convention, taking up the gauntlet thrown down by the disloyal mass meeting of June, resolved "that we will lay aside all party questions and forget all party prejudices and devote ourselves unreservedly to the 1 Lincoln to James C. Conkling, Aug. 26, 1863. 2 Nothing he ever uttered had a more instantaneous success. Mr. Sumner immediately wrote to him: "Thanks for your true and noble letter. It is a historical document. The case is admirably stated, so that all but the wicked must confess its force. It cannot be answered." Henry Wilson wrote him: "God Almighty bless you for your noble, patriotic, and Christian letter. It will be on the lips and in the hearts of hundreds of thousands this day." Among the letters which the President most appreciated was one from the venerable Josiah Quincy, then ninety-one years of age, who wrote: "Old age has its privileges, which I hope this letter will not exceed; but I cannot refrain from expressing to you my gratification and my gratitude for your letter to the Illinois timely, conclusive, and effective. What you say concerning emancipation, your proclamation, and your course of VOL. XXXVIII.-20.
support of our Government, until the rebellion shall be finally and forever crushed": they resolved that "whatever else may die, the Union shall live to perpetuate civil liberty; whatever else may perish, the Government shall survive in all its constitutional integrity; whatever else may be destroyed, the nation shall be preserved in its territorial unity; and to this end we pledge anew our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."3
In this spirit the campaign was fought through to its victorious close, and on the night of the 3d of November the President, sitting in the War Department, had the pleasure of learning from all the clicking wires about him that the cause of nationality and freedom was triumphant from one end of the Union to the other; that the people had come up fully abreast of him on the question of emancipation, and that the nation was now substantially united in the resolute purpose to prosecute the war to its legitimate conclusion. These victories at the polls made sure the good results of this summer of battles; the Administration felt itself confirmed anew and strengthened for the work before it. To those members of the Administration who had formerly acted with the Democratic party there was a certain sense of humiliation and disappointment. Mr. Stanton said, "The disheartening thing in the affair was that there seemed to be no patriotic principle left in the Democratic party, the whole organization voting solidly against the country."4 Mr. Seward, on the contrary, came back from Auburn, where he had gone home to vote, in the highest spirits. He considered the political attitude of New York absolutely safe in the present and future. He thought "the crowd that follows power had come over to the Republicans; the Democrats had lost their leaders when Toombs and Davis and Breckinridge forsook them and went South; the inferior Northern Democrats who succeeded to the leadership had proved their incompetency; the best and most energetic portion of the rank and file of the party were now voting shoulder to shoulder with the Republicans. 5 proceeding in relation to it was due to truth and to your own character, shamefully assailed as it has been. The development is an imperishable monument of wisdom and virtue." After discussing the question of emancipation, he continued: "I write under the impression that the victory of the United States in this war is inevitable; compromise is impossible. Peace on any other basis would be the establishment of two nations, each hating the other, both military, both necessarily warlike, their territories interlocked with a tendency of never-ceasing hostility. Can we leave to posterity a more cruel inheritance, or one more hopeless of happiness and prosperity?" Mr. Lincoln answered this letter in a tone expressive of his reverence for the age and illustrious character of the writer.
3 " History of Sangamon County," p. 315. 4 J. H., Diary, Nov. 3. MS.
5 Ibid., Nov. 8. MS.
No party," he said, "can survive an opposition to a war. The Revolutionary heroes were political oracles till 1812, and afterwards the soldiers of the late war' succeeded to their honors. But we are hereafter a nation of soldiers. These people will be trying to forget years hence that they ever opposed this war. I had to carry affidavits to prove I had nothing to do with the Hartford Convention. Now the party that gained eminence by the folly of the Federalists in opposing the war have the chalice commended to their own lips. I told the Democratic leaders," he said, with his habitual subacid good nature, "how they might have saved themselves and carried the next Presidential election, by being more loyal and earnest in support of the Administration than the Republican party. The Lord knows that would not have been hard."
Although in this memorable contest the Republicans presented a united front to the common enemy, within their own organization there were those bitter differences of opinion which always arise among men of strong convictions. The President's anteroom was thronged with earnest men who desired to warn him in person against the machinations of other men equally earnest, and his mail was encumbered by letters from every part of the country, and every shade of faction, filled with similar denunciations and warnings. The pure and able Senator Dixon of Connecticut wrote: "The heresies of Sumner are doing immense harm in a variety of ways. If his doctrine prevails, this country will be ruined. I do hope you and Mr. Seward will stand firm." From the other wing of the party came the most passionate denunciations of Seward and those who were associated with him in the popular mind; and after the election Senator Chandler of Michigan, one of the most powerful of the Republicans who had by this time assumed to themselves the title of Radicals, having seen in the newspapers a paragraph that Mr. Thurlow Weed and Governor Morgan had been in consultation with the President in regard to his message, wrote a vehement letter to the President, telling him there was a "patriotic organization in all the free and border States, containing over one million voters, every man of whom is your friend upon the Radical measures of your Administration; but there is not a Seward, Weed, or Blair man among them. How are these men," he asked, "to be of service to you in any way? They are a millstone about your neck. You drop them and they are politically ended forever. Conservatives and traitors are buried together. For God's sake do not exhume their remains in your message. They will smell 1 Chandler to Lincoln, Nov. 15, 1863. MS. 2 Lincoln to Chandler, Nov. 20, 1863. MS.
worse than Lazarus after he had been buried three days." There was no man slower than Mr. Lincoln to take personal offense at even the most indiscreet advice or censure; but he answered this letter of Mr. Chandler in a tone of unusual dignity and severity. "I have seen," he said, "Governor Morgan and Thurlow Weed separately, but not together, within the last ten days; but neither of them mentioned the forthcoming message, or said anything, so far as I can remember, which brought the thought of the message to my mind. I am very glad the elections this autumn have gone favorably and that I have not by native depravity, or under evil influences, done anything bad enough to prevent the good result. I hope to stand firm' enough to not go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country's cause." 2
In the month of October Mr. Hood, the postmaster at Chattanooga, wrote to the President a letter setting forth the particulars of a scheme which Emerson Etheridge, Clerk of the House of Representatives, had entered into to give control of the next House to the opposition. Etheridge was a member of Congress from Tennessee before the war, and his sincere attachment to the Union in the face of much obloquy and persecution at home had endeared him to the Republicans in Congress and caused him to be given the post of Clerk of the House; but in the course of two years of war he had become separated from his former political affiliations and now sympathized with the opposition. Mr. Hood, who wrote apparently with great regret as a personal friend of Etheridge, claimed to have become aware of Etheridge's intention to leave off the rolls of the House the names of all members whose certificates did not bear on their face the statement that they had been elected "according to the laws of the State or of the United States." He based this action upon the provisions of a law which had been hurriedly passed during the last day of the Thirty-seventh Congress. At the same time it was understood that he had intimated to the Democratic members what his action would be, so as to allow them to provide themselves with certificates in the form required. The President, on the receipt of this news, put himself confidentially in communication with leading Republicans in all the loyal States, requesting them, without publicity, to have prepared duplicate certificates meeting the objection which it was thought that Etheridge would raise to the ordinary ones. This was in most cases attended to, but not in all, so that when the members began to arrive in Washington a few days before the day fixed for the opening of Congress, a general impression of the contemplated action of Etheridge
had transpired and there was some uneasiness in regard to the issue. The President had done what he could to meet the legal requirements of the case; but, that having been done, he was not inclined to rely exclusively upon moral force. In view of the threatened outrage he sent for some of the leading members of Congress and told them the main thing was to be sure that all the Union members should be present. "Then," he said, "if Mr. Etheridge undertakes revolutionary proceedings, let him be carried out on a chip, and let our men organize the House."1 This practical solution of the trouble had occurred to others, and the Rev. Owen Lovejoy, disregarding for a moment the etiquette of his sacred calling, announced that he was quite ready himself to take charge of Etheridge, and was confident of his muscular superiority to the Tennesseean.
There was not so much uncertainty in regard to the issue as to prevent an animated contest among the Republicans for the caucus nomination for the speakership. The prominent candidates were Mr. Schuyler Colfax of Indiana and Mr. Elihu B. Washburne of Illinois. Mr. Cox of Ohio was the principal candidate for the barren honor of the caucus nomination among the Democrats; though for some time before the meeting of Congress there was a good deal of not very practical talk in regard to the nomination of General Frank P. Blair of Missouri as a compromise candidate to be supported by the Democrats and by a few of the so-called Conservative Republicans. General Blair, while one of the earliest and ablest Republicans of the border States, one who had distinguished himself equally in politics and in the field in the cause of freedom and of progress, had, through the vehemence of the factional fight which had so long been raging in Missouri, been gradually forced, partly by the denunciations of his enemies, and partly by his own combative instincts, into an attitude almost of hostility to the Republican party of the nation. Mr. Lincoln saw this with great regret. He had a high personal regard for Blair, and deplored the predicament into which his passionate temper and the assaults of his enemies were gradually crowding him. In the autumn of 1863 the PostmasterGeneral, in conversation with the President, said that his brother Frank would be guided by the President's wishes as to whether he should continue with his command in the field or take the seat in Congress to which he had been elected from Missouri. The President answered in a letter, dated 2d of November, saying:
Some days ago I understood you to say that your brother, General Frank Blair, desired to be guided by my wishes as to whether he will occupy his seat
in Congress or remain in the field. My wish, then, is compounded of what I believe will be best for the country and best for him; and it is that he will come here, put his military commission in my hands, the nominations, help elect the nominees, and thus take his seat, go into caucus with our friends, abide aid to organize a House of Representatives which will really support the Government in the war. If the result shall be the election of himself as Speaker, let him serve in that position. If not, let him retake his commission and return to the army. For the country this will heal a dangerous schism; for him it will relieve from a dangerous position. By a misunderstanding, as I think, he is in danger of being permanently separated from those with whom only he can ever have a real sympathy- the sincere opponents of slavery. It will be a mistake if he shall allow the provocations offered him by insincere time-servers to drive him from the house of his own building. He is young yet. He has abundant talent-quite enough to occupy all his time without devoting any to temper. He is rising in ment to the command of a corps, by one so compemilitary skill and usefulness. His recent appointtent to judge as General Sherman, proves this. In that line he can serve both the country and himself more profitably than he could as a member of Congress upon the floor. The foregoing is what I would say if Frank Blair were my brother instead of yours.2
In pursuance of this letter Blair came to Washington, though before Congress assembled his candidacy for the speakership had passed out of sight. He took his seat, served for some months, and went back to the army in command of a corps, as the President had promised. This relinquishment of and restoration to a high command in the army occasioned much feeling and a violent attack upon the President on the part of the Radical Republicans, which continued even after he had submitted in a message to Congress the entire correspondence, which reflected nothing but credit upon all parties.
The canvass for Speaker closed on Saturday night, the 5th of December, Washburne withdrawing from the field, and Colfax being nominated by acclamation. All the next day there was great excitement at the hotels frequented by politicians in regard to Etheridge's proposed course of action, which was now no longer a secret to any one. The comments he everywhere heard upon his conduct had its effect upon his nerves, and he began to talk in a complaining and apologetic tone, saying he was simply obeying the law and there was no reason why Republicans should regard him vindictively. The next day, when the House opened, while he did not flinch from the position he had occupied, he did nothing arbitrary or revolutionary. He left off the roll the names of all those members whose certificates
were not, in his opinion, in due form, but readily
1 J. G. N., MS. Memoranda.
entertained a motion to restore them. This met with a hot protest from some of the proslavery members, but a vote was taken showing a majority of twenty for the Government. Mr. Washburne nominated Mr. Colfax, and he was elected by the same majority in a total vote of 181, the Democratic vote being scattered among many members, Mr. Cox receiving more than any other.
As soon as Congress came together Mr. Fernando Wood renewed his furtive overtures with the Government for the appointment of peace commissioners from what he called his wing of the Democratic party, making no secret of his belief that he himself was the most appropriate choice which could be made for such a function. He urged the President to publish some sort of amnesty for the Northern sympathizers with the rebellion which would include Mr. Vallandigham and permit him to return to the country. He promised that in that case there should be two Democratic candidates in the field at the next Presidential election. The President declined his proposition, but he would not take no for an answer. He called again on the morning of the 14th of December and the President refused to see him, merely sending word by a servant that he had nothing further to say to him. Later in the day Mr. Wood offered, in the House of Representatives, a resolution "that the President be requested to appoint three commissioners, who shall be empowered to open negotiations with the authorities at 1 J. G. N.. MS. Memoranda.
THE WESTERN SOLDIER.
HEN General Sherman said to General Grant, "Your belief in victory I can compare to nothing but the faith of the Christian in the Saviour," he specified one of the leading characteristics of the typical Western soldier. At no time, from Sumter to Appomattox, did that devoted servant of the demands of courage and fortitude doubt the success of the Union cause. It was a part of his temperament, of his philosophy, to look for triumph. Not that he was simply a goodhumored optimist, unregardful of adverse conditions, nor yet a victim of blind superstition, political or theological, but that heredity and experience had equipped him with a sense of confidence in himself, in his country, and in the force called fortune that was alike heroic
Richmond to the end that this bloody, destructive, and inhuman war shall cease, and the Union be restored upon terms of equity, fraternity, and equality under the Constitution." This resolution was laid upon the table by a party vote, and Mr. Green Clay Smith of Kentucky offered resolutions opposing "any armistice, or intervention, or mediation, or proposition for peace from any quarter so long as there shall be found a rebel in arms against the Government; and we ignore," the resolutions continued, "all party names, lines, and issues, and recognize but two parties in this war-patriots and traitors." Second: "That we hold it to be the duty of Congress to pass all necessary bills to supply men and money, and the duty of the people to render every aid in their power to the constituted authorities of the Government in the crushing out of the rebellion and in bringing the leaders thereof to condign punishment." The third resolution tendered the thanks of Congress to the soldiers in the field. The first resolution was passed by a party vote of ninety-three to sixtyfive; the second and third were passed unanimously, with the exception of Mr. B. G. Harris of Maryland. Several times during the session this battle of resolutions was renewed, but always with the same result; the Democratic party constantly favoring negotiations for peace while as constantly declaring their devotion to the Union, and the Republicans repudiating every suggestion of negotiation or compromise so long as the enemies of the Republic bore arms against it.
and logical. He came of a stock that had conquered the frontier wilderness through a long and hard discipline of toil, vigilance, and sacrifice, and in so doing had exalted self-reliance as the first of virtues. His idea of duty had its root in a deep growth of previous endurance, which was also a present possession of honor and practical advantage. The past appealed to him at a short distance and in voices that were personally familiar; the Union meant to him a tangible daily blessing, purchased for him by the direct efforts of his father and grandfather in the founding of new States; and he scorned to think for a moment that he could not repeat such service with similar results upon the field of battle.
In the beginning, to be sure, he misjudged the proportions of the undertaking; but when the whole truth was made plain to him it only served to emphasize his loyalty and confirm