« PreviousContinue »
he should succeed, owing to a fear that he might prove a formidable competitor at the next Presidential election. Peculiarly unfortunate, when one remembers that this President had, at the outbreak of the war, put at the head of three important military departments three of the most decided of his political opponents-Patterson, Butler, and McClellanthat no man ever occupied the Presidential chair, unless it be its first occupant, who had less selfishness and more disinterestedness in his composition than President Lincoln.
It was unfortunate for him that such desperate efforts were made by his supporters to fasten the responsibility for admitted failures upon other parties. This began at Ball's Bluff, as bas already been noted. The Secretary of War was dragged in, as well as the President, in connection with the Peninsular Campaign. As to this last, nothing more to the point can be adduced than the words of a man, whose honesty and truthfulness were known wherever he was knownAbraham Lincoln-in a characteristic speech made by him at a Union meeting in Washington, August 6th, 1862, when the issue of the campaign was certain :
“ FELLOW-CITIZENS :- I believe there is no precedent for my appearing before you on this occasion ; but it is also true that there is no precedent for your being here yourselves, and I offer, in justification of myself and of you, that, upon examination, I bave found nothing in the Constitution against it. I, however, have an impression that there are younger gentlemen who will entertain you better, and better address your understanding than I will or could, and therefore I propose but to detain you a moment longer.
"I am very little inclined on any occasion to say any thing unless I hope to produce some good by it. The only thing I think of just now not likely to be better said by some one else is a matter in which we have heard some other persons blamed for what I did myself. There has been a very widespread attempt to have a quarrel between General McCleliau
The Secretary of War.
and the Secretary of War. Now, I occupy a position that enables nie to observe, that at least these two gentlemen are not nearly so deep in the quarrel as some pretending to be their friends. General McClellan's attitude is such that, in the very selfishness of his nature, he cannot but wish to be successful, and I hope he will—and the Secretary of War is in precisely the same situation. If the military commanders in the field cannot be successful, not only the Secretary of War, but myself, for the time being the master of them both, can not be but failures, I know that General McClellan wishes to be successful, and I know he does not wish it any more than the Secretary of War for him, and both of them together no more than I wish it. Sometimes we have a dispute about how many men General McClellan has had, and those who would disparage bim say that he has had a very large num. ber, and those who would disparage the Secretary of War insist that General McClellan bas had a very small number. The basis for this is, there is always a wide difference, and on this occasion perhaps a wider one, between the grand total on McClellan's rolls and the men actually fit for duty; and those who would disparage bim talk of the grand total on paper, and those who would disparage the Secretary of War talk of those at present fit for duty. General McClellan bas sometimes asked for things that the Secretary of War did not give him. General McClellan is not to blame for asking what he wanted and needed, and the Secretary of War is not to blame for not giving when he had none to give. And I say here, as far as I know, the Secretary of War has withheld no one thing at any time in my power to give him. I have no accusation against him. I believe he is a brave and able man, and I stand here, as justice requires me to do, to take upon myself what has been charged on the Secretary of War, as withholding from him. I have talked longer than I expected to, and now I avail myself of my privilege of saying no more."
After the Campaign.
Affairs at the West.
It was unfortunate for him that the precedents were so numerous in American history for making a successful military man President. This must have embarrassed him no little, and tempted him into much of that correspondence wbich otherwise he would have avoided. Had it not been for these fatal precedents, he, assuredly, would not have leisurely seated himself at Harrison's Landing to write to the President a lengthy homily on affairs of State at a moment when it was doubtful whether he would long have an army of which he could be General in command.
Finally, it was unfortunate for him that he had not, when learning to command, learned also to obey. This would have spared himself and the country and the cause several entirely superfluous inflictions.
Whoever would form a correct estimate of President Lincoln's connection with the Peninsular campaign and its commander, must bear these facts in mind. Aside from all considerations of a purely military nature, they are indispensable in reaching an unbiassed decision.
What dogged the heels of this unfortunate campaign must be briefly told. Vigorous,orders from Pope, “ headquarters in the saddle,” turned into most melancholy bombast by bis failure, occasioned either by want of brains or willful lack of cooperation; a rebel invasion of Maryland; the battle of South Mountain gained under McClellan; Antietam, not the victory it might have been, for which a ream of reasons were given; the withdrawal of the rebels ; Government hard at work urging McClellan to follow; supersedure of the latter by the President, who survived his cabinet in clinging to him; appointment of Burnside, much against bis wishes; another defeat at Fredericksburg; and the Army of the Potomac in winter-quarters again.
Such is the summary in the East for A. D. 1862.
In the West, the year closed with the opening of the battle of Murfreesboro, and Vicksburg still held out against all our attempts to take it.
FREEDOM TO MILLIONS.
Tribune Editorial-Letter to Mr. Greeley-Announcement of the Emancipation Proclapa.
tion-Suspension of the Habeas Corpus in certain cases-Order for Observance of the Sabbath-The Emancipation Proclamation.
An editorial article having appeared in the New York Tribune, in the month of August, 1862, in the form of a letter addressed to the President, severely criticising his action relative to the question of slavery—a letter written in ignorance of the fact that a definite policy had already been matured, which would be announced at a suitable momentMr. Lincoln responded as follows:
“ Executive Mansion, Washington, Aug. 22, 1862. Hon. HORACE GREELEY-Dear Sir: I have just read yours of the 19th, addressed to myself through the New York Tribune. If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them. If there be in it any inference which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here argue against them.
If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.
“As to the policy I seem to be pursuing,' as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
“I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the National authority can be restored, the nearer the Union will be the Union as it was.' If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save Slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not sare the Union unless they could at the same time destroy Slavery, I do not agree with them My paramount object in this
The Union to be saved.
struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, every where, could be free.
Yours, A. LINCOLN.” What that policy was, every manly heart learned with delight when the following Proclamation appeared, the most important state-paper ever penned by any American President:
“I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States of America, and Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare, that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and the people thereof, in those States in which that relation is, or may be, suspended or disturbed; that it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress, to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all the Slave States, so-called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States, and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, the immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their