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Speech to Soldiers.
Thanks of the Country. A Great and Free Government.
somewhere; things may be done wrong, which the officers of Government do all they can to prevent mistakes.
"But I beg of you, as citizens of this great Republic, not to let your minds be carried off from the great work we have before us. This struggle is too large for you to be diverted from it by any small matter. When you return to your
homes, rise up to the height of a generation of men, worthy of a free government, and we will carry out the great work we have commenced. I return you my sincere thanks, soldiers, for the honor you have done me this afternoon."
And again, on the 22d of August, under similar circum
"SOLDIERS-I suppose you are going home to see your families and friends. For the services you have done in this great struggle in which we are engaged, I present you sincere thanks for myself and the country.
"I almost always feel inclined, when I say any thing to soldiers, to impress upon them, in a few brief remarks, the importance of success in this contest. It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come, that we should perpetuate for our children's children that great and free Government which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has.
"It is in order that each one of you may have, through this free Government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise, and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations; it is for this that the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthrights-not only for one, but for two or three years.
"To Whom It May Concern."
The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an unquestionable jewel."
During the excitement accompanying the rebel attempts upon the National Capitol, during the month of July, heretofore noticed, representations were made to the President that certain individuals, professing to represent the rebel leaders, were in Canada, anxious to enter into negotiations, with a view to the restoration of peace.
In response to this suggestion, Mr. Lincoln issued the following paper, which was very unsatisfactory to those who affected to believe that peace could be secured upon any basis short of the recognition of the Southern Confederacy, unless the rebels in arms were thoroughly defeated, dated, Executive Mansion, Washington, July 18, 1864.
"TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.-Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the Union, and the abandonment of slavery, and which comes by and with authority that can control the armies now at war against the United States, will be received and considered by the Executive Government of the United States, and will be met by liberal terms on other substantial and collateral points, and the bearers thereof shall have safe conduct both ways.
This ended that attempt to divide the supporters of the Administration.
On the 29th of August, 1864, assembled at Chicago the National Convention of the Democratic party. This had been preceded by a "Mass Peace Convention," at Syracuse, on the 18th of August, at which it had been resolved, among other things, that it was the duty of the Chicago Convention to give expression to a beneficent sentiment of peace and to declare as the purpose of the Democratic party, if it should recover power, to cause the desolating war to cease by the alling of a National Convention, in which all the States
Democratic National Convention.
Gen. McClellan Nominated.
should be represented in their sovereign capacity; and that, to that end, an immediate armistice should be declared of sufficient duration to give the States and the people ample time and opportunity to deliberate upon and finally conclude a form of Union.
There were two factions represented at Chicago: one, unqualifiedly in favor of peace at any price, upon any terms, with any concessions; the other, disposed to take every possible advantage of the mistakes of the Administration, but not possessed of effrontery sufficient to pronounce boldly for a cessation of hostilities in any and every event.
Thus embarrassed, what was left of the still great Democratic party-that party which had swayed the country for so many years, and whose disruption in 1860 was the immediate occasion of the war that ensued-determined to do what it never before, in all its history, had ventured upon. It essayed to ride, at one and the same time, two horses going in diametrically opposite directions.
To conciliate whatever feeling in favor of a prosecution of the war there might be in their ranks, without at the same time going too far in that direction, and to secure as many soldiers' votes as possible, they put in nomination for the Presidency, Gen. McClellan. To neutralize this apparent tendency toward war, they associated the General with George H. Pendleton, of Ohio, as a candidate for the Vice-Presidency-a man, who, during his entire Congressional career as member of the National House of Representatives, had avowed himself and voted as a Peace-at-any-price individual, from the very outset.
The bane and antidote having thus been blended, as only political chemists would have attempted, the candidates were placed upon a platform, the second resolution of which was as follows:
"Resolved, That this Convention does explicitly declare, as
The War a Failure.
the sense of the American people, that, after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretence of a military necessity or war power higher than the Constitution, the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view to an ultimate Convention of all the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that at the earliest practicable moment peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the States."
Democratic National Convention.
This accomplished, the Convention adjourned, having provided for its indefinite existence by empowering its chairman to reconvene it, whenever, in his judgment, it should be thought necessary.
McClellan accepted the nomination, happy to know that when it was made, the record of his public life was kept in view. In his letter of acceptance, he talked all around the peace proposition, ignored the idea of a cessation of hostilities, and went for the whole Union. The document, though sufficiently general and indefinite to answer the purpose, failed to satisfy the ultra-peace men of his party.
Thus, in the midst of a civil war, unparalleled in the world's history, the extraordinary spectacle was presented of a great people entering with earnestness upon a political campaign, one of whose issues-indeed, the main one-was as to the continuance of that war, with all its hardships and burdens.
Just after the adjournment of the Chicago Convention, Sherman's occupation of Atlanta and the capture of the forts in the harbor of Mobile, were announced, seeming to intimate that the war had not been, up to that time, wholly a failure. The thanks of the Nation were tendered by the President to
Negroes as Soldiers.
Capture of Atlanta.
the officers and men connected with these operations, national salutes ordered, and the following proclamation issued, dated September 3d, 1864.
"The signal success that Divine Providence has recently vouchsafed to the operations of the United States fleet and army in the harbor of Mobile, and the reduction of Fort Powell, Fort Gaines, and Fort Morgan, and the glorious achievements of the army under Major-General Sherman, in the State of Georgia, resulting in the capture of the city of Atlanta, call for devout acknowledgment of the Supreme Being in whose hands are the destinies of nations.
"It is therefore requested that on next Sunday, in all places of worship in the United States, thanksgiving be offered to Him for His mercy in preserving our national existence against the insurgent rebels who have been waging a cruel war against the Government of the United States for its overthrow, and also that prayer be made for Divine protection to our brave soldiers and their leaders in the field, who have so often and so gallantly perilled their lives in battling with the enemy, and for blessing and comfort from the Father of Mercies to the sick, wounded, and prisoners, and to the orphans and widows of those who have fallen in the service of their country, and that He will continue to uphold the Government of the United States against all the efforts of public enemies and secret foes.
Mr. Lincoln's views relative to the employment of negroes as soldiers were again and fully expressed about this time in a conversation with leading gentlemen from the West. On that occasion he said:
"The slightest knowledge of arithmetic will prove to any man that the rebel armies cannot be destroyed by Democratic strategy. It would sacrifice all the white men of the North to do it. There are now in the service of the United States